WP's salary proposals similar: Vikram Nair

Sembawang GRC Member of Parliament Vikram Nair said at Tuesday's Parliament sitting that the Workers' Party's (WP) proposed ministerial salaries were similar to the People's Action Party's (PAP) recommendations even though WP had sharply criticised it.

Mr Nair said that WP used very strong language to criticise the committee's proposal, and had essentially called the proposal "elitist" for pegging salaries against the top 1,000 earners.

On Monday, the first day of the debate, Mr Nair had pointed out that the WP's proposed $55,000 monthly salary for an entry-level minister was more than the $46,750 proposed by the committee.

The WP's proposal pegs MP allowances to the salary of a senior civil servant at the MX9 pay grade, which it says is aligned to general wage levels at about$11,000 a month. Ministerial salaries will start at five times this amount, or $55,000.

However, Mr Nair said less than two per cent of civil servants fall into the MX9 pay grade, and hence WP's proposed salary was in fact much higher than the average wage level.

Further, WP should not compare MP allowances to civil service pay, Mr Nair said. This is because MPs in Singapore have to use his allowance to cover his expenses, unlike MPs in other countries.

Thinking of the MP's allowance as a salary could perhaps be the wrong starting point, he concluded.

Debate on maximum bonus allowed by review committee

The maximum 13-1/2 months' bonus allowed for by the ministerial salary review committee was also raised by Mr Nair.

Mr Nair said WP's proposed monthly salary of $55,000 would result in $99,000 more a year - equal to more than a two-month 'bonus', based on the committee's proposed monthly pay.

"While the Workers' Party kicks up a big fuss about the bonus, it is important to keep this in mind, because any bonus they calculate for an entry-level minister will also be based on this higher starting salary," Mr Nair said. Monday's debate

Commenting on Non-Constituency MP Gerald Giam's opposition of motion to endorse the committee's recommendations, Mr Nair expressed surprise that WP had done so as there was common ground between the parties.

"It is stunning that he (Mr Giam) would actually want to oppose a motion that in my view is extremely progressive and brings us much closer to the Workers' Party's ideas than anyone has proposed before,' said Mr Nair.

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