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Author Topic: my silly thoughts about our "Another-Million" Dollar Ministers  (Read 8935 times)

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« on: April 12, 2007, 09:13:42 AM »

I do not intend to join in the public debate on this, there is already too much of it and I also think its goes no end and with no change of reality.

If ask my position, simple : I am in conflict of both (i) accepting the reasoning of paying the value one deserve, as well as (ii)  "I AM VERY UNHAPPY WITH IT, VERY!"

Putting sentiments aside, life will have to go on, and we should also start to look forward. Now that they are paid what they deserved, I raised a few questions :

  1. What happens when they do not deliver what we deserved?
  2. Shouldn't they be more severely punish (then an average Singaporean) if they committed crimes like corruption or worst, betrayal?"
  3. Does one simply "steps down" when he did not deliver what he was supposed to? (and still retire with pension when turned 55?!?!)

As the Government have put it across clearly that it is pure market price to decide who be the ministers,  Law should be amended such that these ministers must also face higher "market" risk. They should be bearing part of the losses for poor decisions, such as bad investments, poorly built houses, failure to anticipate the obvious, etc.

Moreover, since these are supposed to be the best people we can get for leading the nation for a better tomorrow, they should be leave alone to make objective, unbiased decisions. For such, they should be made "Professional Ministers" and not politicians. They, if need be, should/can be appointed and not necessarily elected. They should be given full rights to speak professionally and no govern by some behind time "party whip". Put it simple :
   1. we do not want someone so good and highly paid unable to speak/do/decide what is best for Singapore;
    2. we do not want to pay someone so high just to speak/do/decide for a political party.

Yes I am really unhappy, but if this really the brings the best Ministers, and left to make the best decisions, I buy it.

Nevertheless, please be reminded to stop making the statement "our ministers made much sacrifices to save Singaporeans' rice bowls", because Singaporeans have also made huge sacrifices to keep the amount of rice in your bowls.

PS : this was posted 35min later than what I have wanted, because my block got a blackout again .... will the "Another-Million" Dollars Ministers able to improve the situation after the pay rise?

« Last Edit: April 12, 2007, 09:17:02 AM by SanNiang » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: April 13, 2007, 10:39:38 AM »

The people won't know if they have delivered what they deserved. Because in reality, you deliver to yourself what you deserved almost regardless of what this million dollar shitheads do.

Hypothetical example. If you don't do a job properly to your customer, you will slowly lose all your customer, and not get what you deserved. That has very little to do with what the million dollar shitheads deliver.

However, at the end of the day and before every election, they will point to the fruits of YOUR labour, and claim that they have delivered and call you ungrateful if you don't vote for them.

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« Reply #2 on: April 14, 2007, 12:21:35 AM »

Then our million dollar mini$ter$ will be taking a pay cut.

Don't waste time lah Foo. The best way to cut their pay is to vote them out.

Starting with Mabok Tongue, Balek-rishnan, Lim Gay Khiang and Ng Eng Eng...

Let per capita GDP be basis of ministers' pay
April 14, 2007
ON THE benchmark for ministerial pay, the arguments from the contending parties are valid and rational. However, I believe most citizens are advocating that the fairest benchmark to decide ministers' pay should be based on, say, equivalent pay received by government leaders of six countries with the highest per capita GDP, instead of using the pay of top earners from six professions in the private sector. In this way, the government of a country is effectively appraised by how well the living standard is improved to enhance the quality of life of the citizens.

Steven Foo Say Chew

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« Reply #3 on: January 06, 2008, 08:39:48 PM »

Real parliamentary democracy comes with parliamentary integrity....

Brown urges MPs to keep pay rises below inflation
 Sun, Jan 06, 2008

LONDON - GORDON Brown told members of parliament on Sunday to keep their own pay increases this year below the rate of inflation, in solidarity with nurses, teachers and policeman whose pay hikes have been restricted.

MPs decide their own pay increases in a House of Commons vote but his comments will make it difficult for MPs to award themselves an above-inflation pay increase, as they have done in previous years.

'Government ministers must have a rate of pay increase that is below two per cent - 1.9 per cent. At the same time, my recommendation is that that is what goes for MPs,' Mr Brown told the BBC's Andrew Marr show.

'We must show exactly the same discipline that we ask of other people. The recommendations for significant pay rises will be rejected. It is very important that we send a message to nurses and police and all these people in the public sector.'

Reports that a salaries review body had recommended a 2.8 per cent increase in MPs' pay angered police, nurses and other public sector employees who have been told their own pay rises must stay below a two per cent ceiling this year to keep inflation at bay.

Mr Brown said he would have liked to have paid the police, teachers and nurses more.

'It is very important in this year that we break the back of inflation. In future years, we will do better by the police, we can do better by nurses and teachers, we will do better by the army,' he added.

Mr Brown said restraint on public sector pay had been a key factor in allowing the Bank of England some flexibility on interest rates. The Bank recently lowered rates.

He said low inflation meant Britain was well placed to weather global financial turbulence, adding that he was 'cautious but positive' about the country's prospects in the face of a downturn.

'If we can get the basics of our economy moving forward in the right way - and this is a decisive year for the economy - then I believe we can see ourselves more prosperous in the years to come,' Mr Brown said. -- REUTERS

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« Reply #4 on: January 04, 2012, 07:42:58 AM »

Singapore announces 60 percent pay raise for ministers
By Seth Mydans
Published: Monday, April 9, 2007

SINGAPORE - How much money does it take to keep a Singapore government minister happy? The government says a million dollars is not enough, and on Monday it announced a 60 percent boost in ministers' salaries, to an average of 1.9 million Singapore dollars, or $1.26 million, by next year.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will see his pay jump to 3.1 million Singapore dollars, five times the $400,000 earned by President George W. Bush.

In this nation where the bottom line truly is the bottom line, the argument goes, you've got to pay to get them and you've got to pay to keep them.

"If we don't do that, in the long term, the government system will slowly crumble and collapse," Defense Minister Teo Chee Hean told reporters last month.

As the minister who oversees the civil service, Teo announced the pay hikes Monday, saying: "We don't want pay to be the reason for people to join us. But we also don't want pay to be the reason for them not to join us, or to leave after joining us."

It is a pay system created in 1994 by Singapore's founder, Lee Kuan Yew, pegging the salaries of government ministers and top civil servants to the money they might earn at the top of the private sector.

Defending the system last month against an unusual public yelp of pain, Lee Kuan Yew painted a horrifying picture of a Singapore governed by ministers who earn no more than ministers anywhere else.

"Your apartment will be worth a fraction of what it is," he said, "your jobs will be in peril, your security will be at risk and our women will become maids in other people's countries."

Singapore has one of the most efficient and corruption-free governments in the world.

It is Asia's second-richest country after Japan, with a gross domestic product per capita of about $31,000, and Lee said it could well afford to pay its leaders top dollar.

The total of the salaries before the increase amounted to 46 million Singapore dollars a year, he said, or 0.13 percent of government expenditure - 0.022 percent of gross domestic product.

Under the government's formula, ministers are to be paid two-thirds of the median of the top eight earners in each of six professions: accounting, law, banking, engineering, multinational companies and local manufacturing.

There has been no public sign of discontent among the men and women who run Singapore, but last month the prime minister noted that they were earning just 55 percent of this benchmark.

"We don't want pay to be the reason for people to join us," Teo said Monday in announcing the pay hikes. "But we also don't want pay to be the reason for them not to join us, or to leave after joining us."

Talk of the impending pay increase drew an outcry here for weeks that included letters to newspapers and an online petition that has collected more than 800 signatures.

The average Singaporean earns something over $2,000 a month, and the government has voiced concern over a widening gap between rich and poor.

The ministerial raise comes three months ahead of a 2 percent increase in the sales tax.

Mohamad Rosle Ahmad wrote in a letter to the editor: "I am sure Enron and Worldcom paid more than top dollar for their top executives, and look where their companies are now - six feet under."

Lee Kuan Yew, whose title is minister mentor, said naysayers like this need a reality check.

"I say you have no sense of proportion; you don't know what life is about," he said last month.

"The cure to all this talk is really a good dose of incompetent government," Lee said. "You get that alternative, and you'll never put Singapore together again."

He presented himself as an example: "A top lawyer, which I could easily have become, today earns 4 million Singapore dollars. And he doesn't have to carry this responsibility. All he's got to do is advise his client. Win or lose, that's the client's loss or gain."

The Straits Times newspaper quoted him as saying his current salary as minister mentor was 2.7 million Singapore dollars.

Money may buy happiness for a government minister, but some Singaporeans suggested that other motivations should also come into play for government service.

"What about other redeeming intangibles such as honor and sense of duty, dedication, passion and commitment, loyalty and service?" asked Hussin Mutalib in the Straits Times' online forum recently.

Carolyn Lim, a prominent writer, suggested in an essay in The Straits Times that Singapore needed a little more heart to go along with its hard head. "Indeed, a brilliant achiever without the high purpose of service to others would be the worst possible ministerial material," she wrote.

"To see a potential prime minister as no different from a potential top lawyer, and likely to be enticed by the same stupendous salary, would be to blur the lines between two very different domains."

The minister mentor brushed aside concerns like that.

"Those are admirable sentiments," he said. "But we live in a real world."


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« Reply #5 on: January 09, 2012, 10:18:07 AM »

Insight: What price a minister? 42 years of controversy
Insight looks through records of parliamentary debates to find out when ministerial pay first became a contentious issue, and how the debate has shifted over the years

By Andrea Ong


MINISTERS' salaries are raised for the first time in independent Singapore, from $2,500 a month to $4,500.

Their wages were previously frozen to set an example of wage restraint for other Singaporeans in the young country.

Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew tells Parliament that the salaries are being raised because he wants to appoint newly elected MP Hon Sui Sen, who used to head the Development Bank of Singapore, as the Finance Minister.

Earlier that year, Law Minister E.W. Barker had asked to leave politics as he could not afford his mortgage, which was based on his former income as a lawyer.

It is 'not fair' and 'unrealistic' to ask ministers to earn a wage 'out of all proportion to what they were earning outside the Government and whose family needs are also pressing', says Mr Lee in Parliament.

Also, it will be impossible to attract men of integrity and ability to become ministers with the existing pay once the current ministers leave office.

His own pay will, however, remain at $3,500 to demonstrate his commitment to the policy of no wage increases without productivity growth, he says.


The National Wages Council (NWC) is formed and recommends the payment of the Annual Wage Supplement - the '13th month bonus'. It is adopted by the civil service and political appointment holders. One reason cited is to reduce the gap between public and private sector pay.


First substantial wage increase for ministers and civil servants. Mr Lee's monthly pay goes from $3,500 to $9,500, while ministers' monthly pay rises from $4,500 to $7,000.

This kicks off a series of periodic pay increases for ministers and civil servants in subsequent years.


By March this year, ministers' monthly pay has increased to $11,500. Mr Lee's pay is now $16,500.

Mr Lee notes in Parliament that times have changed since the 'revolutionary conditions' of the 1950s and 1960s, when people were more willing to sacrifice for their ideals and ministers could be recruited from both Singapore and Malaya.

Said Mr Lee: 'Now, our selection is confined only to Singaporeans. This makes it all the more crucial that some six to 10 of the best in the professions, from banking, and from industry, be recruited into the political leadership. Otherwise the Cabinet will simply not be equal to the more complex tasks of government.'


During an extensive debate on ministerial salaries, Mr Lee introduces another reason for paying ministers a reasonably high sum: to keep Singapore's political leaders clean and corruption-free.

He was responding to Workers' Party (WP) MP J.B. Jeyaretnam's charge that ministers here were paid much more than their counterparts in Malaysia, Australia and Britain.

Mr Lee argues that ministers do not get hidden perks, unlike those in other countries. The clean wage paid to them helps preserve Singapore's 'most precious asset': an administration that is corruption-free.

Says Mr Lee: 'I am probably the highest paid in the Commonwealth if you go by official salary. But I am probably one of the poorest in the Commonwealth... I am one of the best paid and probably one of the poorest of the Third World prime ministers.'

Mr Lee says he has been a 'kept man' all his years in public service, with his wife and three brothers in the private sector all earning more than he does.

Mr Lee also challenges Mr Jeyaretnam, who earlier called for ministers to have a sense of proportion, to say by how much he would cut the total ministerial wage bill of $4.66 million.

To the reply of at least a third, Mr Lee retorts: 'So it will go down to $3.1 million... And then we all become honour-able men who have suddenly sacrificed ourselves for duty and public service. Let us have a sense of proportion.'


Ministers' pay rises to a gross monthly sum of $28,644. The prime minister's gross monthly pay is $49,608. Variable bonus is raised by half a month. A performance bonus of up to two months' pay is introduced for the first time.

Also for the first time, the Government introduces 'make-up pay' to attract talent from the private sector. When such people join as new ministers, they can be paid up to 90 per cent of the difference from their old wage for up to two terms of office. This draws much criticism from MPs.

The policy has never been applied.


An impending pay rise for ministers is announced in December.

Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong tells Parliament that while he cannot pay ministers what they would earn in the private sector, the pay must still be such that the younger generation would consider it worth sacrificing their previous comforts and privacy for.

He is already finding it increasingly difficult to persuade talented individuals to become ministers, he says.

While acknowledging the political cost of the pay increase, Mr Goh said: 'If we do not pay ministers adequately, we will get inadequate ministers. If you pay peanuts, you will get monkeys for your ministers. The people will suffer, not the monkeys.'


After the pay increase kicks in, ministers' gross monthly pay is $64,000, and Mr Goh's, $96,000.

In January, Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew proposes a formula to peg ministers' pay to private sector incomes. Such a formula removes the need to justify pay revisions every few years as adjustments based on income tax figures could be made automatically each year.

'Ministers' pay will then go up or down with the private sector, and never get seriously out of line,' said Mr Lee.

In October, a White Paper on 'Competitive salaries for competent and honest government' is presented to Parliament.

It proposes a benchmark which sets a junior minister's pay at two-thirds the average principal income of the top four earners in six professions: bankers, accountants, engineers, lawyers, local manufacturing companies and multinational companies.

The one-third discount would be a 'visible demonstration of the sacrifice involved in becoming a minister'.

Three days of intense debate follow. Many backbenchers, including People's Action Party (PAP) MPs Wang Kai Yuen and Tan Cheng Bock and opposition MP Ling How Doong, express discomfort with putting a price to public service as ministers are not the same as top private sector earners.

Opposition MP Chiam See Tong and Nominated MP Walter Woon argue that ministers should be paid enough to lead a comfortable lifestyle but should not compete with top earners. Mr Chiam suggests a monthly pay of $50,000 for ministers.


In January, an independent panel sets the prime minister's pay at twice that of the most junior minister - a rule of thumb still in place today. Mr Goh, who earns $1.15 million a year, would see his pay increase to $1.6 million.

He also decides to forgo any salary increase for himself for five years.

In October, Dr Tony Tan returns to Cabinet as deputy prime minister and labour minister after having left in 1991 for OCBC Bank. He declines Mr Goh's offer of make-up pay, saying: 'I think that there has to be a financial sacrifice when one goes into the Government. I don't think that it is conscionable for me to expect the Government to pay me what I'm now getting at the bank.'


Asian financial crisis. Ministers' pay is frozen even though the benchmark rises. They take an extra pay cut in 1997 when employers' Central Provident Fund (CPF) contribution is slashed from 20 to 10 per cent to keep the economy competitive.


Extensive revision of the salary structure for ministers and civil servants. Junior ministers' pay lags behind at just 10 per cent of the benchmark. The benchmark itself is found to be too narrow and unrepresentative.

The benchmark for a junior minister's pay is changed to two-thirds of the median income of the top eight earners in six professions.

The new formula considers a broader sample - the top 48 earners instead of the previous 24. And to avoid being skewed upwards by a few extremely high earners, it uses median instead of average income and only considers half of the stock options awarded to the top earners.

The previous fixed salary points for ministers are converted to salary ranges. Junior ministers are now appointed at the MR4 range, a system still in place today.

The variable component of ministers' pay is increased from 30 to 40 per cent. This way, a larger part of a minister's pay will depend on his performance and the state of the economy, said Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

For the first time, a new gross domestic product-related bonus of up to two months is introduced under the ministers' variable pay. It will later range from zero to six months.

The performance bonus of ministers also rises to five months' pay, from an average of four months' pay.

However, the President, Prime Minister and Senior Minister remain at fixed salary points and receive fixed bonuses.

After the revision, the Prime minister receives a yearly pay of $1.94 million and a junior minister, $968,000.

Again, the topic is hotly debated in the House. Many MPs criticise the timing of the raise, which comes after a transport fare hike and when workers' CPF cuts have not been restored.

Mr Chiam repeats his 1994 call for moderation and a monthly salary of $50,000 for ministers - enough to pay for a bungalow, servants, two cars, annual holidays and their children's education.


Ministers' salaries are cut twice, once in November 2001 after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and once in July 2003 after the Sars outbreak. They are restored in 2004 and 2005.


Another salary revision. Ministers' pay now stands at only 55 per cent of the benchmark, and the Government moves to raise it to 73 per cent by the year end.

The variable portion of ministers' annual pay rises to 47 per cent - nearly half of their annual package.

The traditional car allowance is scrapped, but performance bonus is increased to a typical seven months, up from five months before.

The GDP bonus is also raised. It can now range from zero to eight months.

An acrimonious debate ensues in the House. Some PAP MPs say the raise is only pragmatic, while others like Ms Denise Phua and Mr Lim Biow Chuan argue in favour of the spirit of public service.

WP Non-Constituency MP Sylvia Lim says the average worker's monthly wage would be earned by ministers in two to three hours.

WP MP Low Thia Khiang argues that other countries like Finland and Denmark pay their ministers much less but do just as well as Singapore.

Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew rises for the first time in two years to rebut, saying that Mr Low's comparisons are not valid. Singapore's transformation from the 1960s to now 'requires an extraordinary government with extraordinary government officers to support it'.

And if Singapore did not believe in investing in top talent for its ministers, it might have ended in tatters: 'Your apartment will be worth a fraction of what it is. Your jobs will be in peril, your security will be at risk and our women will become maids in other people's countries.'

After the revision, junior ministers earn $1.59 million. The Prime Minister earns $3.09 million, up from $2.46 million. However, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong declares that he will donate the increase to charity for the next five years.


Ministers' pay in 2010 stood at 67 per cent of the benchmark after planned increments were deferred due to the 2009 financial crisis.

About 40 per cent of their pay is variable. Performance bonus can range from zero to 14 months, while GDP bonus varies from zero to eight months.

The issue of political salaries is a contentious one in the May general election and even in the August presidential election, when two of the four candidates pledge to donate part of their pay to charity if elected.

On May 21, PM Lee Hsien Loong announces that he has appointed a committee to review political salaries.

This week, the committee, headed by Mr Gerard Ee, releases its recommendations in a report titled 'Salaries for a capable and committed government'.

It proposes changing the benchmark formula for a junior minister to 60 per cent of the median income of the top 1,000 earners who are Singapore citizens.

The discount and sample size are bigger, and foreigners and PRs are excluded from the benchmarking sample.

The variable component in pay has been slashed to prevent large swings from year to year. The performance bonus is now smaller - up to six months instead of up to 14 months.

The GDP bonus has been scrapped. In its place is a National Bonus of up to six months which considers four indicators - economic growth, real income growth rates for average and poor Singaporeans, and unemployment.

The Prime Minister's salary has been slashed by 36 per cent to $2.2 million, while a junior minister's pay has been cut by 37 per cent to $1.1 million.

The report will be published as a White Paper and debated in Parliament on Jan 16.

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« Reply #6 on: January 14, 2012, 02:34:24 AM »

 Pay, bonuses: What exactly a minister gets

By Chua Lee Hoong, Political Editor

In the past week numerous questions have been asked about the recommendations of the Committee to Review Ministerial Salaries.

Here's my take on some of the common questions:

Q: Different figures have been bandied about in the newspapers and online. $1.1 million. $935,000. $715,000. I am confused. What exactly is the pay of a new minister?

Different figures have been bandied about in the newspapers and online. $1.1 million. $935,000. $715,000. I am confused. What exactly is the pay of a new minister?

The committee is recommending a 'benchmark' salary of $1.1 million a year. This, however, is not automatically what every new minister will get a year.

Like for most people, a minister will get a monthly salary, and bonuses at the end of the year, whether financial year or calendar year.

The committee's recommendation assumes a 20-month annual package. Divided by 20, the 'benchmark' monthly amount becomes $55,000.

However, typically only 13 months can be said to be 'confirmed' pay - the 12 monthly instalments, and the 13th month Annual Wage Supplement.

The 'confirmed' annual pay amount is thus $55,000 x 13 = $715,000.

The remaining seven months are bonuses tied to individual performance and various nationwide indicators.

This means that if these indicators are not met, the annual remuneration package will be below $1 million.

Point Two: Like for most people in the public sector, there is a salary scale.

The committee recommended that the salary scale start from $46,750 per month, or 85 per cent of the 'benchmark'.

For a minister placed on this rung of the salary ladder, his annual 13-month package will be $607,750.

If his performance is up to scratch and the economic indicators in the National Bonus meet expectations, he will get a 20-month package of $935,000.

If both his performance and that of the indicators far exceed expectations, he could get a maximum 26.5 months - $1,238,875. But this is extremely unlikely.

Q: What is the National Bonus and why have it?

This links a minister's pay directly to the well-being of Singaporeans and is an incentive for him to make that a priority.

The bonus range is from zero to six months.

The four indicators it is pegged to are the real median income growth rate, the real growth rate of the income of the bottom 20 per cent, the unemployment rate, and the real GDP growth rate.

Every minister will get the same number of months of the National Bonus, as the well-being of Singaporeans is the collective responsibility of Cabinet and not individual ministers. The effort is indivisible.

Q: Is ministerial income tax-free?

No. Ministers pay the top tax rate of 20 per cent.

Q: How about MPs' allowances?

Also taxable. Even for many who are not office-holders but hold other jobs, the allowance bumps them up into the top tax tier.

Q: Why do office-holders also get the MP allowance?

This is international practice in Westminster parliamentary systems. The two roles are distinct and separate - being an MP and being a minister. A minister has to run his ministry, but at the same time he also has his constituency to look after.

Q: Will a minister with two portfolios get two salaries?

Only one.

Q: Will ministers and MPs get pensions?


Q: Other benefits?

No. Only the Prime Minister gets a car, and this is subject to tax. The rest buy their own cars.

Some ministers drive their own cars; others may hire a driver but they pay for the driver out of their own pocket.

No one gets a housing allowance.

Q:  Medical benefits?

The medical benefits a minister gets is similar to what civil servants who joined after 1994 get. That is, a maximum of $1,190 is paid into his Medisave account each year to buy medical insurance. Outpatient subsidy is capped at $350 a year. Dental benefits are capped at $70 a year.

Some new office-holders who used to be civil servants find that their medical benefits are now less than what they had when they were civil servants.

Q: The Government keeps talking about a 'clean wage'. What exactly is this?

This means a salary without hidden perks and privileges - such as a personal plane like Air Force One for the President of the United States, or expense accounts like in some European countries.

Q: Why is there a need to link ministerial pay to the pay of the top 1,000 earners?

This is to reflect the calibre of the people that the Government hopes to attract. It is to make sure that people of calibre are not deterred from becoming ministers.

The Government is not saying that people who are top earners in the private sector will make good political leaders, nor that good political leaders will necessarily earn top dollar in the private sector.

The main message from the benchmarking exercise is that while money should not be the motivation for anyone becoming a politician, the financial opportunity cost should not be so large as to discourage capable Singaporeans from entering politics.

My own view is that the committee could easily have recommended a similar benchmark salary without referring the 1,000 top earners. It could have got a consulting firm to do a survey of capable professionals and ask them what they think ministers should be paid. Anecdotally, most people who fall into this category think $1 million or so is fair.

Q:  Are the latest pay figures for all time?

This is already the third review since the approach of pegging ministerial pay to that in the private sector started in 1994. It is unlikely to be the last.

The committee has recommended that there be regular reviews and that the Prime Minister should appoint an independent committee to do it. It adds that the review should be done every five years.

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