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November 25, 2008

Global Crisis Impact:
Singapore PM, ministers take pay cut

Salaries for Singapore politicians, who are amongst the highest paid in the world, will be cut by up to 19 percent next year due to a weakening economy, Reuters quoted the city-state broadcaster Channel News Asia as reporting Monday.

Singapore ministers, who are paid millions each year, have a component in their salary that is pegged to economic growth and with Singapore in a recession and the outlook gloomy for next year, this variable will fall, Channel News Asia said on its website, quoting the government's Public Services Division.

Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, whose pay was increased to S$3.76 million ($2.46 million) this year -- or five times that of US President George W Bush -- will see his salary fall to S$3.04 million ($1.99 million).

The Southeast Asian country has said it needed to pay top dollar to compete with top private sector salaries and to retain talent in the public sector, as the city-state becomes a growing centre for financial services. The downturn has also hit the private sector, with the country's biggest bank DBS Group and shipping firm NOL laying off staff.

State wealth fund Temasek, headed by Ho Ching, the wife of the prime minister, also said on Friday that senior managers had volunteered to take pay cuts of between 15 to 25 percent.

Lee said the country cannot simply stimulate demand during this time of crisis by raising government spending. While that may be what other countries are doing to stem the downturn, Lee said it cannot work for Singapore because of its small economy.

Lee made the point during a dialogue session with business leaders in Sao Paulo, Brazil on Monday.

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