Friday, November 26, 2010
When Less Is More
In announcing the greatest bonus payout for the 74,000 civil servants since 1994 (2.5 months plus 1 minimum next year), the Government took pains to highlight that pay adjustments due since last year for ministers and top civil servants will be put on hold again. Before you shed a tear for your altruistic MP, take a look at the chart.
Except for local manufacturing and MNC, all the professionals' median salaries included in the private sector benchmark scheme, some say scam, used to compute ministers' pay have headed south - which makes the "Local Manufacturer" with a double digit net positive jump a suspect statistic. Remember MM Lee's comment about the "pipe dream" that local companies can compete with successful ones in other parts of the world? MNC's, as is well known, always have had out of this world expatriate packages and "hardship allowance" tweaks. If ministerial salaries are indeed indexed against the declining trend, shouldn't they be pointing in the same direction? Since we are told the "planned adjustment" for the ministers have been deferred for the third time, it's a no brainer to conclude that they have been grossly over compensated for the past 3 years and maybe more. For those lower ranked civil servants swooning over their bumper bonus and $300 one-time pay off, read on.
Despite the big sacrifice of foregoing salary adjustment, ministers at the entry level grade of MR4 will take home $1.58 million this year, up from last year's $1.49 million - that's $90,000 extra. Administrative officers at the entry level Superscale Grade of SR9 will get $365,000, up from $338,000 - that's $27,000 extra. Kinda makes the 300 bucks look puny, doesn't it? Note also they quote only the "entry level" numbers, meaning the actual average hike for the top dogs will definitely be more than enough for a pastry cooking lesson in France. Makes you wonder how Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, minister in charge of the civil service paychecks (including his own), will account for the extraneous compensation outlay - classify them as "Other Costs" as inspired by Balakrishnan's creative YOG accounting?
A number of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have already told the press that they won't be able to match the Government's generosity for its own rank and file. The Chairman of wallpaper supplier Goodrich Global, not feeling particularly good or rich this year, said he will probably pay his 150 employees a maximum of 2 months bonus. Deputy secretary-general of NTUC Halimah Jacob said workers are paid less during bad times but are rewarded fairly during good times. Fat cats with recession proof payola packages excepted.