Website debunks online falsehoods about PM and ministers' salaries

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

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 that there have been inaccurate reports about ministerial salaries circulating in recent weeks.

One of 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.

Additionally, Cabinet ministers on the board of Singapore's sovereign wealth fund GIC are not paid fees. GIC said on its website that it pays fees only to board directors from the private sector.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is the chairman of GIC.

The issue of ministerial salaries arose last month 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, ESM Goh 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."

Last week, PM Lee shared in a written parliamentary reply that political office-holders of all grades received an average annual performance bonus of around four months' salary in the last five years.

The amount given to each individual ranged from three to six months of their pay each year.

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

Workers' Party Non-Constituency MP Leon Perera had asked about the bonus paid to Cabinet ministers in the last five years.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 18, 2018, with the headline 'Website debunks online falsehoods about PM and ministers' salaries'. Print Edition | Subscribe