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S’pore govt debunks rumour PM Lee earns S$4.5 million a year

The prime minister makes double of what a junior minister makes.

Belmont Lay | September 17, 2018 @ 03:25 pm

How much do ministers in Singapore make?

A lot of numbers have been thrown around recently, but not all of them are correct.

Debunk rumours

Factually, a Singapore government initiative dedicated to setting the record straight on matters related to government policies or matters of public concern, has come out to debunk rumours of how much ministers make in Singapore.

An article published on Sunday, Sept. 16 is to respond to “inaccurate reports about ministerial salaries circulating in recent weeks”.

It listed two falsehoods that have been circulated in Singapore, while clarifying that a minister’s annual salary is made up of a fixed component and variable pay.

1. Junior ministers make S$1.1 million per year

The first falsehood claimed that the Singapore government is not upfront about how ministerial salaries are calculated.

In response, Factually said pay components have been set out in a White Paper tabled in Parliament in 2012.

As a concrete example, the annual salary of a junior minister — also known as MR4 minister — is about S$1.1 million including bonuses.

The minister might also earn well below S$1.1 million if he/ she and the economy do not do well.

The 2012 White Paper explained the rationale for how ministerial salaries are derived, starting from the most junior minister:

We chose to benchmark the entry MR4 Minister’s salary to the median income of the top 1,000 earners who are Singapore Citizens but with a 40% discount to signify the sacrifice that comes with the ethos of political service. This benchmark is based on a larger pool that does not specify occupations and covers only Singapore Citizens, the pool of talent that political leaders will be drawn from.

2. PM Lee earns double of junior minister

The second falsehood claimed PM Lee earns S$4.5 million a year when his bonus is factored in.

Factually said this is false as the prime minister’s norm salary is set at two times that of an MR4 Minister.

PM Lee’s S$2.2 million annual salary includes bonuses.

The prime minister does not receive a performance bonus as there is no one to assess his performance annually.

However, he does receive the National Bonus, which is based on various economic growth factors such as the real median income growth rate, real growth rate of lowest 20th percentile income, unemployment rate, and real GDP growth rate.

Photo of final Cabinet meeting on Sept. 30, 2015 via MCI.

About Belmont Lay

Belmont can pronounce "tchotchke".

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