Better wage hikes likely in 2011 (except for President & Ministers??)

The good news is the pay increases forecast is to average 4.2% this year which is 0.5% higher than last year.

The bad news is, well, if you're the President of Singapore or one of the ministers, you can expect your salary to be slashed.

And it's for sure going to happen. This time.

The question is how much the cut shall be?

Too little of a paycut, citizens would not be appeased. They'll detect the insincerity of PM Lee Hsien Loong as he's the one who announced that a committee to review the salaries of political appointment holders was to be established.

Too big of a paycut will not do go to the nation as well. Of course, citizens would be rejoiced! After all, we do strongly believe that to be a politician, one must be willing to sacrifice monetary gain elsewhere & not to be 'burdened' with obscenely high salary! Realistically speaking, though, with an unattractive salary, you can forget getting a league of extraordinary gentlemen (sigh. A title of a fantastic graphic novel by Alan Moore comes to mind!) to fill the cabinet.

There needs to be a balance & it won't be easy. I don't envy Mr. Gerald Ee for his quest. No, Sir. You, Mr. Gerald, will either be a saint or a sinner in the eyes of eagerly awaiting Singaporeans!

Many of us might be guilty to think along the line of Robin Williams. Especially the following quote of his:
Politics: “Poli” a Latin word meaning “many”; and "tics" meaning “bloodsucking creatures”.”


Admit it. That thought did ever come across your mind.

Nevertheless, I'm confident that there are some of us who await our politicians to stand up & declare somewhat like Mahatma Gandhi's saying of:
“Men say I am a saint losing himself in politics. The fact is that I am a politician trying my hardest to become a saint.”


Will there be any? Here? Let's wait and see...

When the committee put up their recommendations & before Singaporeans cry out that the salary of the political appointment holders are still ridiculously high, will we see some of them stand up & declare to give a large portion of the money to charity?

Or even better, to refuse upfront.

It will be a very bold move and admirable one.

I'm looking forward to witnessing this noble act. (I know, I know, you did point out that 'noble politicians' is the latest oxymoron. Hur hur.)

WAGE increases are forecast to better counter the impact of inflation this year compared to last year, according to a poll conducted by global management consultancy Hay Group.

The poll, conducted in March, covered over 480 Singapore-based firms from both the private and public sectors. They were polled on their business sentiments, insights into inflation, and salary and bonus projections for the 12 months.

According to the results, salary increases are forecast to be at an average of 4.2 per cent this year, which is 0.5 per cent higher than last year.

Also, the average bonus payout is forecast to be 2.7 months, higher than the 2.5 months bonus payout last year.

Regional general manager for Reward Information Services, Victor Chan, said: 'Although rising inflation has generated concerns with employees for the first quarter of this year, responding organisations in our poll actually reported salary increases forecast to beat the inflation rate.

'This is to prevent a possible repeat of 2008 when the actual salary rate of 2.3 per cent lagged behind the inflation rate of 6.8 per cent,' he said.

However, of the companies polled, only 27 per cent have measures to help defuse the effects of inflation, with around half of them having considered steps such as giving salary supplements through one- time payments, accounting for inflation in annual increments, increasing the annual increment budget and a more aggressive salary increment range.

Hiring is still a key focus this year, with half of the organisations surveyed planning to increase manpower by 5 to 10 per cent.

Mr Chan said this trend was not surprising. 'Organisations are reporting positively about their business performance expectations given the current buoyant economic landscape,' he said.

He added that companies should look to ways other than monetary incentives to retain employees, such as fast-track career progression and developing a coaching and mentoring culture.

From Business Times, "Better wage hikes likely in 2011: poll".

NEW salaries for political appointment holders will take effect from May 21 - the date the new government took office. This was decided by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, in a statement released by the Prime Minister's Office on Sunday.

In addition, the President has informed Mr Lee that he will also adopt the new salary on May 21, although the salary for the President will in-principle commence from the President's new term.

The statement came a day after Mr Lee announced that a committee to review the salaries of political appointment holders was to be established.

The Committee's terms of reference: to review the basis and level of salaries for the President, Prime Minister, political appointment holders and Members of Parliament to help ensure an honest and competent government.

The statement added that the Committee 'should take into account salaries of comparable jobs in the private sector and also other reference points such as the general wage levels in Singapore'.

The Committee should also take into account the following guidelines:

- while the salary of the President should reflect the President's high status as the head of state and his critical custodial role as holder of the second key, it should also bear in mind the fact that unlike the Prime Minister, he does not have direct executive responsibilities except as they relate to his custodial role.

- the salary of ministers should have a significant discount to comparable private sector salaries to signify the value and ethos of political service.

The Committee is chaired by Mr Gerard Ee, the chairman of the Changi General Hospital and the National Kidney Foundation.

The other seven members are:

- Mr John De Payva, president of the National Trades Union Congress

- Ms Fang Ai Lian, chairman of the Charity Council and Methodist Girls School Board of Management

- Mr Stephen Lee Ching Yen, president of the Singapore National Employers Federation

- Mr Po'ad bin Shaik Abu Bakar Mattar, member of the Council of Presidential Advisers and Public Service Commission

- Mr George Quek, founder and chairman, Breadtalk Group, vice-president, Teochew Poit Ip Huay Kuan and chairman, Xinmin Secondary School Advisory Committee

- Mr Lucien Wong, managing partner, Allen & Gledhill LLP and chairman, Maritime and Port Authority

- Mr Wong Ngit Liong, chairman, National University of Singapore Board of Trustees and chairman & CEO, Venture Corporation

From Straits Times, "Revised ministerial salary effective from May 21".

Singapore government has said that the salaries of the cabinet ministers and the president will be up for review by a committee, with signals for possible pay cuts, local media reported on Monday.

The Prime Minister's Office announced the members of the eight- member committee led by the National Kidney Foundation chairman Gerald Ee on Sunday. The members include representatives of the unions, the private and public sectors and charity organizations.

While Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has earlier said that the ministers' pay will be reviewed, the Prime Minister's Office said on Sunday that the salaries of the president and the political appointment holders will also be reviewed.

The committee will "review the basis and level of salaries for the President, Prime Minister, political appointment holders and Members of Parliament to help ensure honest and competent government," and should "take into account salaries of comparable jobs in the private sector and also other reference points such as the general wage levels in Singapore," it said.

Singapore has been known for paying high salaries to its government ministers in a bid to prevent corruption and give them a decent life since 1994, when the benchmark for ministers and top mandarins was set at two thirds the average income the top four earners in each of six sectors such as banking, accounting, engineering, law, local manufacturers and multinational corporations. The terms were later broadened to the top eight earners' median incomes.

Most recent data showed that the cabinet ministers earned between 1.57 million and 3.04 million Singapore dollars (between 1. 28 million and 2.47 million U.S. dollars) in 2009. In comparison, Donald Tsang, Chief Executive of China's Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, earned some 530,000 U.S. dollars a year, and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard takes home about 345, 000 U.S. dollars.

The high salaries earned by the ministers have raised the ire of many Singaporeans against the backdrop of rising costs of living and growing income gap in Singapore, the Straits Times said.

The Prime Minister's Office also sent strong signals that there would be big pay cuts and that they would be backdated to May 21, the day the new cabinet was sworn in.

"The salary of ministers should have a significant discount to comparable private sector salaries to signify the value and ethos of political service," it said.

"While the salary of the President should reflect the President 's high status as the head of state and his critical custodial role as holder of the second key, it should also take into account the fact that unlike the Prime Minister he does not have direct executive responsibilities except as they relate to his custodial role," it added.

The salary of the president has also risen in recent years in tandem with those of political, judicial and civil service appointment holders. It is also higher than the prime minister's salary.

President S R Nathan earned 4.27 million Singapore dollars (3. 47 million U.S. dollars) in the 12-month period ended March 31. This caused a stir when it was made public recently.

The revised salary for the president will, in principle, start from the new term of the president in August, but President Nathan has informed Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong that he will adopt the new salary from May 21 too.

National University of Singapore political scientist Reuben Wong said the review could mean the president's salary would become lower than the prime minister's, but it should not be the priority as politically sensitive issue is ministerial salaries.

From People's Daily, "Singapore to review officials' pay".

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