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January 20, 2009

Singapore: Ministers’ annual pay seen dropping by 20% in 2009
The annual salaries of Singapore's ministers and senior civil servants are expected to fall by 12 to 20 percent this year in line with the shrinking economy, Reuters quoted local media as reporting Tuesday.

Defence Minister Teo Chee Hean, who is also minister in charge of the civil service, told Parliament on Monday that senior permanent secretaries and entry-grade ministers will likely receive S$1.54 million ($1.03 million), which is a drop of 20 percent from last year.

Younger officers in the elite Administrative Service -- typically top performers in their early to mid-30s -- will receive S$351,000 or about 12 percent less, Teo added.

"As the salaries are linked to economic performance, the 2009 salaries may be subject to further adjustments given the volatility of the economy," he said. Singapore pegs ministers and senior civil servants' pay to top earners in the private sector, saying it needs to pay well to retain talent in the government service.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong last year received an estimated S$3.76 million, about five times the annual salary of outgoing US President George W Bush.

Singapore, which became the first Asian economy to slip into recession last year, has forecast the economy could shrink by up to 2 percent this year. It is considering dipping into its reserves worth hundreds of billions of dollars for the first time to tackle the slump, officials were quoted as saying on Monday.

The government could draw on the central bank's foreign reserves that totalled $174.2 billion in December, or its two secretive sovereign funds GIC and Temasek that had at least a combined $230 billion in assets in reported figures last year.

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