It must be fun being a minister. Because unlike the rest of Singapore, you'll never have a bad year.
ST Nov 29, 2006
Ministerial pay 'lags behind benchmark'
But decision on whether to relook salaries rests with PM, says SM Goh
By Sue-Ann Chia
BRATISLAVA (SLOVAKIA) - MINISTERS' salaries are pegged to that of the private sector, but they still lag behind the benchmark.
It is therefore likely that when civil service pay is reviewed, ministers' salaries will also be looked at, said Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong yesterday.
Last week, the Government indicated that salaries of civil servants are likely to go up as it must keep its wages competitive to recruit and retain talent in a tightening labour market.
At an interview yesterday wrapping up his visit to Europe, Mr Goh was asked about the likelihood of the pay increase, including for ministers.
He replied: 'Since the year 2000, six years have gone by with very good growth rates in some of the years, so it's time to have a look at the salary of the civil service as a whole, including the salary of the ministers.'
Right now, he said, ministers' pay packets are at 50 per cent of the benchmark, when they should be at two-thirds level.
According to the formula agreed upon for over a decade now, ministerial pay is benchmarked to the salaries of the top earners in six chosen professions. It is set at two-thirds the median income of the top eight earners in each of these six professions - that is, the pay of the individual at the mid-point of the list.
What do I mean? Well, let's say a cardiosurgeon in Singapore does very well in his career this year, makes a lot of money and is the top-earning cardiosurgeon this year.
Next year he may not do so well. Maybe he will have fewer patients. Or perhaps he just won't have so many complicated cases, so he has to charge less for doing simpler surgeries. Consequently, he will earn much less.
That's life. Some years are good, some years are not so good.
Ministers, however, have no such problem. Their salary is pegged to whoever is earning most, in a given year. When our top cardiosurgeon is earning a lot, the ministers will peg their salaries to him. When our top cardiosurgeon has a bad year, the ministers will just drop him out of the list.
They will then peg their salaries to some other doctor for whom 2007 does turn out to be a great year (eg the most successful neurosurgeon or oncologist in Singapore, for example).
Don't you just love the subtle phrasing in the following paragraph:
According to the formula agreed upon for over a decade now, ministerial pay is benchmarked to the salaries of the top earners in six chosen professions.
Heheh. Agreed upon by whom? The people of Singapore? The Opposition MPs? The NMPs? Or just between Lee Kuan Yew and his merry men in white?