SINGAPORE - Political office holders of all grades received an average annual performance bonus of around four months' salary in the last five years, with the amount given to each individual ranging between three and six months of their pay each year, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Monday (Sept 10).
He gave these figures in a written parliamentary reply to Non-Constituency Member of Parliament Leon Perera, who 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.
The average performance bonus hit a high in 2015, when political office holders received 4.4 months of bonus, while the lowest bonus in the last five years was in 2017, when they received 4.1 months of bonus.
Political office holders include parliamentary secretaries, ministers of state and Cabinet ministers.
The performance bonus is one of the components that make up the benchmark salaries of political office holders. The other components include their monthly salary, the 13th month non-pensionable annual allowance, national bonus, and annual variable component as paid to civil servants.
In March, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said 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. On Monday, PM Lee reiterated that this remains the Government's position.
He had formed a committee in 2017 to review whether the salary framework established in 2012 remains appropriate and valid against its intended goals, and what adjustments may be useful; and whether there is a need to adjust the salaries should there be a change in overall salary levels based on the proposed framework.
Last month, the issue of ministerial salaries drew heated reactions from Singaporeans, in response to remarks made by Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong at a residents' forum.
Braddell Heights resident Abdul Aziz, 70, had asked if ministerial salaries could be cut to fund pensions for elderly people. In response, Mr Goh said that while the idea of helping the elderly more is not wrong, cutting ministers' pay will be a populist move.
He added that Cabinet ministers are not paid enough, and that it would become harder to attract good people to join the Government in future.
Later on, Mr Goh added in a Facebook post that "salaries are not our starting point in looking for ministers. Character, motivation, commitment, selflessness, practical abilities, competence and proven performance are the main attributes we look for. The first four attributes are veto factors".
This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.