Monday, December 5, 2011

Food for thought - on Ministerial Pay

Following SDP public presentation on their recommendations on Ministerial pay on 30 Nov, NSP organised one on 4 Dec. I think the opposition parties are doing a great job to put pressure on the government so the committee under Gerald Ee, which they appointed will be on their toes, instead of just 'wayanging' with the aim to justify for the overly excessive salary of the ministers again. LKY had done it in the 1980s, then Goh CT in the 1990s and current PM Lee in 2007. After 3 rounds of revision, it is a path to millionair and retire a billionair just by joining PAP.

James from SDP was invited to present their recommendations. NSP gave theirs and Tan Jee Say spoke too. Interesting forum as I pick up some new thoughts from the participants who spoke after the panel of speakers. I will share them here, as the press will report what speakers' speech but not the floor discussion.

1) It is PAP as a party that finds it difficult to attract talent. They make it into a national issue instead and use this as a reason to justify for the high salary to attract talent. So it boils down to policies and party alignment. After all we have seen talents joining opposition parties this election.

2) In this election, the new candidates are from the army and civil service and they have not attracted high flyer from the private sector. This shows their reasoning is flaw. Then why peg it to the top 8 earners from 6 private sectors? It becomes irrelevant. In fact, one participant suggested that those top talent in private sector would not join because they do not want to be perceived to be going in for the money - so PAP policy is having the reverse effect.

3) Another participant suggested PM needs to be pay so much is because he has to earn more than his MPs. If MPs work full time, instead of the current part time MPs, they would not have so much time to take up numerous directorship in private companies. Then our PM need not be so highly paid. Those directorship could be paying $50k or more each. Our MPs are known to hold directorship in 10 or more companies. Besides, MPs are also still holding on to their formal career. Added up MP could be earning alot of money. Now we can guess how much they are earning based on PM pay.

4) The bonus and variable components of ministerial salary are counter productive as it could affect policies decisions. We have seen it happening already. The emphasis on GDP growth at all cost and taking the easy way by letting in many foreign workers which jack up GDP.

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