The Singapore Government has announced a deferral in the review of political salaries that was due in 2023. This decision was relayed by Education Minister Chan Chun Sing, who also holds the portfolio of Minister in charge of Public Services.
The response to parliamentary questions posed by Mr Alex Yam Ziming, MP for Marsiling-YewTee GRC, and Ms Hazel Poa, NCMP from the Progress Singapore Party, regarding the political salaries review, was directed to the Prime Minister on Tuesday (9 Jan).
Ms Poa’s inquiry was more comprehensive, seeking details from the Prime Minister about whether the 2023 review of political appointment holders’ salaries was conducted, the members of the reviewing Committee, the Committee’s terms of reference, and the anticipated release date of the Committee’s report.
Minister Chan Chun Sing, representing the Prime Minister, stated: “The recommendations from the last political salaries review were announced in 2018. The salary review Committee recommended a review of the political salaries framework about every five years, or when necessary. The Government did not make any changes to political salaries following the 2018 review as the salary structure remained valid and there were economic uncertainties in the previous few years.”
Mr Chan added, “A review of the political salaries was due in 2023. However, the Government decided to defer the review as we have other pressing issues to deal with.’
“In 2023, the global geopolitical situation has become more uncertain, with conflicts in the Middle East and Ukraine, and continuing heightened geopolitical contestation. On the economic front, significant uncertainties and downside risks in the global economy remain, impacting our local economy and our wages and inflation outlooks.”
In view of the mentioned circumstances, Mr Chan announced that the Singapore government has decided to focus on dealing with these key challenges at hand and defer the review of political salaries for now.
“The Government will review the political salaries framework and benchmark in due course to ensure that they remain relevant and up to date.”
Earlier in January last year, in response to a question by Ms Poa, Minister Chan had confirmed the government’s intention to review political salaries for 2023.
Ms Poa had inquired “Whether a committee had been appointed to carry out the five-yearly review of political salaries since the last committee in 2017.”
Reflecting on the historical context, Minister Chan stated in an earlier session, “In 2018, the Government responded to the latest review of political salaries by an independent committee. The committee concluded then that the salary framework remained relevant and sound, recommending adjustments to the salary levels of political appointment holders to match the updated benchmark.”
This development is a continuation of the discourse on political salaries in Singapore, which gained significant attention following the 2012 White Paper on ministerial salaries. This paper was introduced after the 2011 General Election, which saw a decrease in support for the incumbent PAP government and the party losing Aljunied GRC to the Workers’ Party.
The White Paper, chaired by Mr Gerald Ee, aimed to address public concerns by benchmarking the entry MR4 Minister’s salary to the median income of the top 1,000 earners who are Singapore Citizens, with a 40% discount.
Singapore’s political salaries are among the highest globally, with the Prime Minister reportedly earning US$1.6 million annually.
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