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, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said yesterday.
He gave these figures in a written parliamentary reply to Non-Constituency Member of Parliament Leon Perera of the Workers' Party, who had asked about 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 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, the national bonus and an annual variable component as paid to civil servants.
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 last year, when they received 4.1 months of bonus.
Political office holders include parliamentary secretaries, ministers of state and Cabinet ministers.
In his written reply, PM Lee said an independent committee was formed last year to review whether the salary framework established in 2012 remained 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.
PM Lee then referred to Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean's remarks in Parliament in March, when several MPs asked for an update on the review of ministerial salaries by the committee.
Mr Teo had noted the review committee affirmed that the current salary structure for political office holders, including the national bonus framework, remained sound. Therefore, the Government should maintain this structure.
Mr Teo also said that while the benchmark salary for a new minister at entry "MR4" grade had gone up by 9 per cent since 2011, the Government noted the 2017 MR4 benchmark was lower than the 2016 MR4 benchmark. "Hence, the Government has decided to maintain salaries at the current level and watch salary trends further."
Yesterday, PM Lee said this remains the Government's position.
Last month, the issue of ministerial salaries arose after remarks by Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong at a residents' forum.
He had said in response to a question that while helping the elderly more is not wrong, cutting ministers' pay to do so would make it harder to attract good people to join the Government in the future.
Elaborating later, he said: "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."