Singapore leaders face massive pay cut

AP News
Posted: Jan 04, 2012 3:06 AM
Singapore leaders face massive pay cut

Facing public anger over soaring housing costs and growing income inequality, Singapore's prime minister has agreed to accept a hefty 36 percent pay cut _ and still earn $1.7 million a year.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's office said Wednesday that he will accept the recommendations of a government-appointed committee to reduce his salary, as well as those of his ministers and the city-state's president.

The committee _ appointed by Lee following a disastrous parliamentary election in which his party faced historic losses _ recommended that Lee's salary be cut 36 percent to 2.2 million Singapore dollars ($1.7 million). Lee has served as prime minister of the prosperous city-state since 2004.

President Tony Tan faces even tougher times, with a potentially staggering 51 percent salary cut. Still, observers might consider him well-paid at SG$1.5 million for a ceremonial post.

Salaries for government ministers will be reduced by 37 percent to an annual SG$1.1 million.

Still, public officials in Singapore, with a population of 5.1 million, could be the envy of their peers.

By comparison, Barack Obama _ president of a country of 312 million people, that also has the world's most powerful military and top economy _ earns $400,000.

British Prime Minister David Cameron makes due on $222,000, French President Nicolas Sarkozy collects $302,000 and German Chancellor Angela Merkel earns $296,000.

Gerard Ee, chairman of the remuneration committee, said parliament will debate the recommendations later this month. However, Lee, in a letter to the committee, said he will accept the new salaries.

Lee's ruling People's Action Party won parliamentary elections in May with its lowest overall vote total since independence in 1965.

The salaries of Singapore's leaders soared in the 1990s when they were benchmarked to an average of the highest private sector pay in Singapore.

Singapore's leaders had long justified their high salaries by insisting they were necessary to attract the best managerial and leadership talent to public service.