Friday, 17 February 2012

A dash of vinegar over chips and salaries

Oops, I forgot to complete this post after writing "let x be ..." in January :p Forgot parts of our discussion and added some. Sito said this is chim-er than before! Oh well...

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After the craving for Singaporean food ended with morning sickness, I went back to wanting angmoh food. So we headed out for some Irish pub grub - bangers and mash, fish and chips WITH VINEGAR! Omg, that was good..

Besides eating, we had one hell of a time coming up with a way to settle this ministerial salary thing. Ya, great dinner topic - money..

It started with Sito suggesting that we continue to pay MPs what they were earning before being elected. Let me present the result of our discussion as follows:

$p = last drawn basic annual salary before being elected
$a = basic annual salary after being elected, i.e. entry-level pay for MP
Sh = salary add-on for office holders, i.e. for Parl Sec, MOS, (Acting) Minister
$r = the debated and accepted recommendation of MP's salary
$b = annual bonus
N = number of elected MPs
n = number of office holders; different n for each level

(Familiar format?! :p)


1) $a = $p if $p is smaller or equal to $r for new entrants; existing MPs whose $p are long out of date can take $r. Over time as existing MPs retire, salaries will adjust to a new equilibrium.

This means that those coming in from high-paying jobs will see a cut in their salary but those coming in from lower-paying jobs will not see a dramatic increase. This way, people are not motivated to join politics for money, and those who are already highly-paid can remain so subject to a cap. (If $a is deemed too low, one way is to up it to $a' = Σ$a/N. But what is too low? Anyway...) The remaining difference should even out as the better ones take on more responsibilities and move up the salary scale, i.e. + $h.

2) $h should be set at appropriate increments for each successive level, e.g. a single increment could be $i = Σ$a/10N and depending on the office and $h could be $i for Parl Sec and x$i for Ministers.

3) $b = xΣ$a/N + yΣ$h/n where
- x is a quantum obtained by weighing various economic and social indicators; the four indicators under the accepted National Bonus structure should do fine, and,
- y is a similar quantum but could vary for each office holder.

Note that $h = 0 for MPs who are not holding office.

4) As per recommendations, no more pensions; just CPF like every other Singapore.

5) There is no annual increment; the basic salary is fixed for the entire term and revised when new MPs come in. $r may be also be revised at the end of each term. How? I don't know :p Maybe based on real income growth of the 50th percentile?

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And just this week, we also discussed salaries for civil servants. We don't think that civil servants should be subject to the whole "privilege to serve" thing. First of all, we have professionals in the civil service with very comparable equivalents in the private sector - just think teachers, healthcare professionals, lawyers, social workers etc. Then, for the rest of us who are not in professional wings, there are content experts in their respective areas and those who have experience and overview in more than one policy area - necessary for a whole-of-government approach. (Love that term hoho!) At the end of the day, civil servants are doing a job, doing something worthwhile for a cause they believe in, serving the people indirectly through implementation. Politics is not their war.

Sito did a little "rally speech" in his PJs on how the civil service and the politicians should be separate entities altogether. I'll like to make a little flag for him :)

Things we talk about when we have time. Bliss.

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