10 Obscene Facts About the Prime Minister’s Salary

It’s no secret that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is the highest paid government leader in the world. But just how much is he paid?

1. If PM Lee’s pay was cut by nearly 70%, he would still be the highest paid leader in the world

PM Lee isn’t just the highest paid leader in the world, he has no close second. Carrie Lam (who is second) of Hong Kong receives $S642,173 per annum, less than 30% that of PM Lee. If PM Lee were to take a massive 70% pay cut, he would still earn more than her.

2. PM Lee makes more in a day than what 5 low-income families make in a month

All civil servants have a 5 day work week and compensation is structured around that schedule. Assuming PM Lee worked 5 days a week for all 52 weeks, his daily pay would amount to $8461 ($2,200,000/(52 x 5). An average low income family would only make $1500 a month.

3. PM Lee makes more than the top 0.1% of Singaporeans

The top 1% of income earners in Singapore make $700,000 a year. The top 0.1% make close to $1.8 million, still short of PM Lee’s grand figure of $2.2 million. PM Lee’s salary doesn’t just put him among the rich, but the super rich.

4. He pays only 22% in income tax

The top income tax rate in Singapore is only 22%, so we can assume that that’s the maximum amount PM Lee has to pay. If he earned that much in the socialist welfare states of Europe, he’d be paying at least 50% in taxes.

5. $2,200,000 a year is only the base pay. There are still bonuses and other generous benefits

$2.2 million a year is a lot of money by any measure, but PM Lee is also entitled to an allowance worth 1 month’s pay and a bonus worth 6-12 month’s pay depending on his performance.

6. PM Lee’s pay used to be even higher

Believe it or not, PM Lee’s salary used to be even more obscene. From 2008 to 2012, Lee earned an annual salary of S$3,870,000, an increase of 25% from the previous S$3,091,200. On January 2012, in response to public unhappiness over ministerial salaries, Lee took a 28% pay cut reducing his salary to S$2.2 million (US$1.7 million).

7. PM Lees makes over 60 times that of a fresh Uni grad

The average starting pay of a university graduate is a modest $36,000 a year, 60 times less than what PM Lee makes.

8. It would take a middle income earner his entire work life to earn what PM Lee makes in a year

A middle income earner making $4500 a month would take approximately 488 months or about 40 years and 8 months to earn $2.2 million.

9. PM Lee’s salary is not bench marked to average Singaporeans but that of top private sector pay

The salaries of our ministers soared in the 1990s when they were bench marked to an average of the highest private sector pay in Singapore.

PM Lee and numerous PAP ministers had long justified their high salaries by insisting they were necessary to attract the “best managerial and leadership talent to public service”.

10. There are some PAP ministers and MPs who actually think that amount is decent

In January 2012, Grace Fu, in reaction to ministerial pay cuts, ranted on how further cuts to ministerial salaries may dissuade people from serving in politics in the future. Her Facebook post was met with mass criticism.

In May 2011, MP for Nee Soon, Lim Wee Kiak linked ministerial salaries to the “dignity” of politicians. He had been quoted by Lian He Zao Bao as saying, “If the annual salary of the Minister of Information, Communication and Arts is only $500,000, it may pose some problems when he discuss policies with media CEOs who earn millions of dollars because they need not listen to the minister’s ideas and proposals. Hence, a reasonable payout will help to maintain a bit of dignity.” His comment was the subject of harsh criticism both online and offline and he subsequently apologized for it.

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