SINGAPORE: Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said the million-dollar paychecks of ministers and top civil servants must be raised to close a 55 percent gap with private-sector income levels.
Lee said the current S$1.2 million (US$790,000; €590,000) salary a minister currently draws is outdated, remaining unchanged since 2000, and is 55 percent of a 2.2 million Singapore dollars (US$1.4 million; €1.1 million) a year benchmark.
The salary benchmark for ministers and top civil servants is pegged at two-thirds of the median income of the top eight earners in each of six private sector professions including bankers, lawyers and engineers, he said.
"We have to close this gap," the prime minister said at an annual Administrative Service dinner Thursday evening.
The high salaries for ministers have caused grumbling in the wealthy, tightly controlled city-state, but the ruling People's Action Party has said ministers' and civil servants' pay must be high enough to attract the best talent and prevent corruption.
Parliament approved the benchmarks in 1994, according to the Straits Times newspaper.
"We do not expect (public servants) to make unreasonable financial sacrifices to be in the public sector, but they must feel a sense of idealism, of duty and responsibility, and of a larger purpose," Lee said.