SINGAPORE: Singapore’s ministerial salaries may undergo adjustments in 2024, following the absence of a planned review in the previous year.

Cabinet Minister Chan Chun Sing first revealed plans for a 2023 review in January 2023 in response to a parliamentary question by Non-Constituency MP and Progress Singapore Party (PSP) member Hazel Poa.

Ms Poa had asked about appointing a committee for the five-yearly review of political salaries, pointing out that the last committee was appointed in 2017. She sought information on the committee’s terms of reference and when its report could be expected.

Minister Chan noted in his reply that in 2012, a White Paper on Salaries for a Capable and Committed Government had recommended the appointment of an independent committee every five years to review the salary framework for political appointment holders.

The ensuing review in 2012 resulted in significant pay cuts for top officials in 2012, including a 51% reduction in the president’s pay and a 36% reduction in the prime minister’s pay, following recommendations by the committee chaired by then National Kidney Foundation chairman Gerard Ee. Pay cuts were also imposed upon other political office holders, such as ministers and the Speaker of Parliament.

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The White Paper and the pay cuts came after the watershed 2011 general election, which saw the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) lose a Group Representation Constituency (GRC) to the opposition for the first time.

In 2018, a subsequent committee found that the existing salary framework remained “relevant and sound.” The committee suggested yearly political salary adjustments in alignment with annual benchmark movements to stay abreast of market developments. However, the government decided against making changes at that time due to economic transition.

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean mentioned in 2018 that the issue would be revisited after five years or when deemed necessary. Despite Minister Chan’s indication that the salary review might occur in 2023, the year passed without any such review.

The current speculation about a potential salary review in 2024 comes amid uncertainties, including rumours of an upcoming election and the ruling party’s preparation for a long-awaited leadership transition.

Observers are keenly watching to see if the review will indeed take place this year and what adjustments may be proposed.