Tuesday, April 10, 2007

More Cracking Comments about the Great Singapore Pay Increase


While MP Inderjit Singh (Ang Mo Kio GRC) was — like most backbenchers who spoke up yesterday — supportive of the notion of paying more for talent, he questioned the timing of the announcement.

"We have just introduced Workfare for the less well-off. (Yet) the expenditure on the civil servants and ministers’ salary increase is almost the same as that of the total Workfare Income Supplement scheme. What signal are we sending Singaporeans?"

“Has the Prime Minister lost a minister or a Permanent Secretary? I think the issue is not as urgent as it’s made to seem. Here we are in the House, (where we were) about a month ago, debating and arguing why we shouldn’t be giving our Public Assistance recipients — some 3,000 of them — another $100 monthly-assistance increase, and (now) we’re talking about million-dollar salary increases.”

“How do we answer the man-in-the-street when we’re told that about one-quarter to one-third of the expected revenue increase this year from the GST is going to be for the proposed ministerial and civil service salary increases, about $240 million, I was told?”

Opposition MP Mr Low Thia Kiang also referred to the recent debate on increasing the amounts for public assistance.

“It’s also ironic that we are consuming taxpayers’ money and … discussing how much more of a fraction of a million to pay civil servants and ministers while we haggle over additional tens of dollars to hand out to our needy and disadvantaged citizens,” he said.

Starting salaries will also rise in June. Elite Administrative Service officers benchmarked to the top earners aged 32 in the private sector will have their annual salaries raised by 3 per cent to $384,000. Some MPs, however, saw problems in benchmarking civil servants pay to the private sector, pointing out to disparities in the risks taken by top private sector executives compared to ministers and top civil servants.

Marine Parade MP Lim Biow Chuan:

“I struggle to understand what a top Admin Officer aged 32 at grade SR9 has to worry about that will justify him receiving $363,000 a year … From many people’s perspectives, they take no personal risk and are at best, paid employees.”

Opposition MP Low Thia Khiang objected to benchmarking pay to the top performers each year in the private sector.

“By benchmarking civil servants’ annual pay against individuals who have performed well during that year, there is an implicit assumption that civil servants and ministers never make incorrect decisions. But are they truly superhuman beings, forever errorfree?”

Previous blogpost: Paying the Piper: The great Singapore civil servant salary debate

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