SINGAPORE: The opposition Workers' Party (WP) acknowledged on Monday (Oct 1) it would pay ministers "essentially" the same as they are paid today in an exchange in Parliament on the issue.
Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean made this point during a tussle with the WP about ministerial salaries, and WP chief Pritam Singh said the party agreed with this observation.
During the exchange, Mr Teo highlighted that the Government and the WP were “very close” on the issue in terms of principles and actual amounts.
“Indeed ... if there were a WP government in power today, by their own formula, a WP minister would be paid essentially the same as what a minister today is paid,” said Mr Teo.
The discussion arose after MP Alex Yam asked about ministerial salaries and how they are calculated.
In his initial response to the question, Mr Teo said that the salary structure for Singapore’s ministers is “totally transparent” and “there are no hidden components or perks”.
In laying out the specifics of how ministerial salaries are calculated, Mr Teo highlighted how the details of salary benchmarks were established in a 2012 White Paper.
He also pointed out how the WP had, in 2012, endorsed the principles of salary determination - and added that the formula proposed by the WP then would have resulted in the same total annual salary for entry-level ministers.
“But the Workers’ Party formula would have had a higher fixed component (of 81 per cent) compared to the White Paper’s proposal, and a smaller variable component (of 19 per cent),” said DPM Teo.
Currently, the fixed component of a minister's salary is 65 per cent and the variable components constitute 35 per cent of the total norm annual pay.
After detailing what had been established in 2012, Mr Teo invited MPs to ask further questions and make clarifications.
After addressing points raised by the WP on providing more details and actual dollar values, Mr Teo asked the WP's Leon Perera to reaffirm the WP's 2012 endorsement of the principles of salary determination as laid out in the White Paper at that time, highlighting the points that salaries should be competitive, should recognise the ethos of public service and should be transparent.
In response to that point, Mr Perera said he had “no disagreement with those broad principles”.
Drilling into the issue further, Mr Teo asked the WP MP whether he agrees that the salary proposals that his party put forward in 2012 would “essentially” result in the same total salaries for ministers.
Mr Perera said there were no grounds for him to disagree, though he noted he did not participate in the debate then.
Mr Singh stated unequivocally that his party agreed: “The answer is ‘yes’ we agree.”