Singapore civil servants get 13% pay hike

SINGAPORE, June 29 Kyodo

Singapore announced Thursday a pay raise averaging 13% for its civil servants in a bid to curb the departure of young bureaucrats for the private sector, especially information technology firms and Internet ventures.

Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong unveiled the salary hike for the civil service, effective from July this year, in parliament.

As a result of the raise, Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong, one of the world’s highest-paid leaders, will get a 14% pay raise, bringing his annual salary to S$1.94 million (US$1.12 million) from its current S$1.7 million.

Much of his salary increase will be in the form of bonuses. The prime minister’s monthly pay will only rise by 0.4% to S$85,300 from S$85,000.

Lee said the salary revision for the civil service is aimed at narrowing the salary gap between the civil service and the private sector and retaining government employees. The hike comes as the civil service is suffering a stampede of talent to the private sector.

“Resignation rates have…gone up across the entire civil service,” Lee said, revealing that 284 senior officers quit their jobs in the first five months of this year compared with 267 for all of 1999.

He added that starting salaries for university graduates in the private sector are 36% higher than their peers in the civil service, while private-sector pay for those with technical qualifications is 51% higher.

One of the highest increases under the salary revision is targeted at “bright young officers” serving as senior bureaucrats. Their annual pay will be raised by 50% to S$363,000.

Singapore cabinet ministers command higher salaries than their counterparts in most other countries because since 1994, their salaries have been pegged to a benchmark tracking the pay of top earners in the private sector, such as bankers, accountants, engineers, lawyers and executives in large corporations.

The government has argued that the pegging helps maintain an honest, competent government and prevents corruption.

Government salaries had been frozen since 1998 due to the 1997 Asian economic crisis.

The pay increase is expected to raise eyebrows as it is taking place amid a widening income disparity between Singapore’s rich and poor, especially in the aftermath of the crisis.

COPYRIGHT 2000 Kyodo News International, Inc.

COPYRIGHT 2000 Gale Group

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