Singapore government leaders are likely to have a pay cut amid growing voter resentment toward millionaire Cabinet ministers, the chairman of a new committee reviewing salaries said on Sunday.
The current formula for calculating ministers’ pay will be scrapped, Gerard Ee told state-owned Channel NewsAsia.
“You can expect that in all probability, it (salaries) would be cut,” said Mr. Ee, who is chairman of Changi General Hospital.
Since the mid-1990s, minister salaries have been benchmarked to two-thirds of the median income of the top eight earners from six private sector professions — accounting, banking, engineering, law, local manufacturing companies and multinational corporations.
The formula turned Singapore’s civil servants into some of the best paid in the world. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong earns more than 3 million Singapore dollars ($2.4 million) a year while rookie ministers have made almost SG$2 million.
Mr. Lee announced the pay review committee on Saturday, two weeks after the ruling People’s Action Party won 60 percent of the vote in May 7 parliamentary elections, its lowest percentage since independence in 1965.
Singapore’s leaders have long argued that high salaries are necessary to attract top performers to the government and reduce the temptation of corruption.
However, the million-dollar pay checks came to symbolize an out-of-touch government unable to relate to the struggles of ordinary citizens facing soaring housing costs and stagnant wages.
“I know that Singaporeans have genuine concerns over the present salaries,” Lee said in a speech. “Politics is not a job or a career promotion, it’s a calling to serve the larger good of Singapore.”
“But ministers should also be paid properly in order that Singapore can have honest, competent leadership over the long term,” Mr. Lee added.
Mr. Ee said the new salary formula will take into account the overall wage level of workers. He declined to say when the new salary scale would be implemented.