In the wake of the ministerial pay review, Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) Teo Chee Hean announced on March 2012 that the Public Service Division (PSD) would be reviewing the salaries of public servants, in response to a query by Nominated MP Eugene Tan.

Then, Mr Tan argued that public servants are also expected to accept a certain degree of “sacrifice” when accepting a career in public service, and hence their pay should be reflective of the sacrifice they are expected to make.

Changes to the civil service pay
In April 2013, after the completion of the pay review, DPM Teo announced some changes to the salary structure of some public servants. They include about 300 Administrative Service officers, judges and selected statutory appointment holders.

While DPM Teo did not reveal the salaries of top civil servants, several changes are made to the pay structure of officers in the Administrative Service:
  • For officers in the top Administrative Service, pensions will be replaced with a long-term retention package to “help keep these officers to ensure the policies they are working on have a sense of continuity”.
  • A gratuity plan would be put in place for judicial and statutory appointment holders, including the Attorney-General, Auditor-General and chairman of the Public Service Commission.
  • Bonuses will no longer be pegged to economic growth through the Gross Domestic Product. Instead, the GDP bonus will be replaced with the National Bonus, the same bonus used to calculate the salaries of political leaders.
The National Bonus includes the following components: GDP growth, real median income growth rate of Singapore citizens, real income growth for the poorest 20 percent in Singapore, and the unemployment rate.[1]

In his reply to Mr Eugene Tan last year, DPM Teo said that public servants are different from ministers as they “are professionals and hence should not be subjected to the same degree of sacrifice as political appointment holders”. DPM Teo also said that it is the policy of the government “to pay competitive salaries that follow, but not lead, the market”. This is to ensure that “the public service can continue to get a steady flow of able and committed people to helm and staff the key appointments”. [2]

Thinking questions
  1. Should the pay structure of a public servant be any different from the pay structure of a private sector employee? Why?
  2. Is a high pay package the only way to attract top talents to join the public service? What are some other possible methods?

[1] No more pensions for Singapore’s civil servants,
[2] Civil service pay review to take up to 9 months: DPM Teo, The Straits Times, 2 March 2012