Government debunks online falsehoods about ministerial salaries, including reports on PM's pay

Government debunks online falsehoods about ministerial salaries, including reports on PM's pay
Political office holders received an average performance bonus of around four months' salary, with the amount given to each individual ranging between three and six months of their pay each year.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

SINGAPORE - The Prime Minister does not get paid up to $4.5 million a year, the Government has said, as it sought to debunk what it called "falsehoods" about ministerial salaries that have surfaced recently.

Government website Factually, which is run by the Public Communications Division of the Ministry of Communications and Information, said in an article on Sunday (Sept 16) that there have been inaccurate reports about ministerial salaries circulating in recent weeks.

Among the claims that have appeared online is that the Government is not upfront about how ministerial salaries are calculated.

"This is false," the website said. "The pay components are set out in a White Paper, which was tabled in Parliament in 2012."

In an infographic, the website stated that a minister's annual salary is made up of a fixed component of a monthly pay and 13th month bonus, as well as a variable pay component.

The variable pay component consists of a performance bonus determined by the Prime Minister, an annual variable component based on Singapore's economic performance and a national bonus.

The national bonus is based on the real median income growth rate, real growth rate of the lowest 20th percentile income, unemployment rate and real Gross Domestic Product growth rate.

The website added that an MR4 (entry-level) minister's annual salary is $1.1 million, including bonuses.

"If the minister doesn't do well - and if the economy doesn't do well - he may get well below $1.1 million," it added.

Another falsehood online is that the Prime Minister is being paid $2.2 million a year as a base salary, excluding bonuses, and that he earns a total of $4.5 million, the website said.

Stating that this is false, the website clarified that the Prime Minister's norm salary is set at two times that of an MR4 Minister.

His $2.2 million annual salary includes bonuses, and he does not receive a performance bonus as there is no one to assess his performance annually. However, he receives the national bonus.

In Parliament on Sept 10, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong shared the average annual performance bonus of political office holders in the last five years in a written parliamentary reply to Non-Constituency Member of Parliament Leon Perera.

From 2013 to 2017, political office holders of all grades received a bonus of around four months' salary, with the amount given to each individual ranging between three and six months of their pay each year, PM Lee said.

Political office holders include parliamentary secretaries, ministers of state and Cabinet ministers.

Mr Perera had asked about the bonus paid to Cabinet ministers in the last five years in terms of the average total of bonus months, and the highest and lowest total of bonus months paid to an individual minister.

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean had said in March that ministerial salaries will remain unchanged and will be reviewed after five years or when it becomes necessary as a scheme for determining the salaries of ministers and other office holders remains valid.

PM Lee, in Parliament, reiterated that this remains the Government's position.

In 2017, he had formed a committee to review whether the salary framework established in 2012 remains appropriate and valid against its intended goals, and whether there is a need to adjust the salaries.

This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.

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