Political office-holders receive 4.1 months performance bonus even as GDP slumps

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Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong confirmed yesterday that political office-holders received an average performance bonus of 4.1 months in 2017.

Responding to a parliamentary question filed by Workers’ Party Non Constituency Member of Parliament Leon Perera, PM Lee revealed in a written reply that the average performance bonus political office-holders received last year was the lowest in the past 5 years.

This past year’s average performance bonus of 4.1 months comes after the average performance bonus was 4.3 months in 2016, 4.4 in 2015, 4.2 in 2014 and 4.3 in 2013. From 2013 to 2017, political office-holders of all ranges could have received between three to six months’ performance bonus.

The Prime Minister is the one who decides how much performance bonus political office-holders will receive. The bonus is reportedly dependent on how well the minister has done for the year as well as their contributions to their immediate portfolios and to the government as a whole.

Besides monthly pay and the performance bonus, political office-holders also receive a 13th month non-pensionable annual allowance, an annual variable component as paid to civil servants and a National Bonus linked to Singapore’s real median income growth rate, real growth rate of lowest 20th percentile income, unemployment rate and real GDP growth rate.

Unlike the performance bonus, which differs from minister to minister depending on their contributions to national development, all members of political appointment will receive the same national bonus amount.

PM Lee’s announcement that political office-holders received an average 4.1 months performance bonus comes even as the GDP appears to slump.

According to data from the World Bank, Singapore’s economic growth slipped to 2.397 per cent in 2016 after a 15.24 per cent high in 2010 that came after the recession brought the GDP to -0.603 per cent in 2009.

The GDP did slightly better in 2016 than 2015’s 2.241 per cent but not as well as 2014’s 3.884 per cent or the GDP in 2013, 2012 or 2011.

This year’s 4.1 months average performance bonus for political office-holders also comes weeks after Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong declared that ministers are not paid enough, sparking a renewed outcry over high ministerial salaries.

Echoing Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, PM Lee said in his written reply to Perera yesterday that the Government will maintain the current pay structure since a committee he formed to review the salary framework found that the pay structure “remained sound”.

The head of Government added: “Therefore, we should maintain this structure. While the MR4 (or entry-level minister) benchmark had increased by 9 per cent since 2011, the Government noted that the 2017 MR4 benchmark was lower than the 2016 MR4 benchmark, and hence had decided to maintain salaries at the current level and watch salary trends further. That remains the position.”

Singaporeans, however, have expressed their displeasure with a four months performance bonus and have pointed to sparsely attended parliamentary sessions and photos of MPs sleeping during parliament to ask whether a four months performance bonus is justified:

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