Labour MPs Alex Yam and Zainal Sapari voiced their views at Parliament’s debate on the proposals of the Committee to Review Ministerial Salaries from 16-18 January 2012. Here are the excerpts.
Alex Yam: “I urge that beyond the debate we are now having, we will all need to refocus in future on the real businessof government. And that involves keeping our focus on thepeople of Singapore.
In the Budget statement for 2011, which this House adopted, we pledged collectively that the target is to raise median income of Singaporeans to $3,100 by 2020, which is to say a 30 per cent real wage increase in 10 years. That in my view is a debate that we should truly be having.
That a decrease in allowances or salaries by 99 members of this House will not realise real wage increase for other Singaporeans is not the moot point. What is of importance is that we fulfil that pledge through coherent and well-thought out policies that will help to drive up real take home income of ordinary Singaporeans.
This is where a capable and committed government is important. Mathematically, an average of 2.7 per cent wage increase is required every year over the next 10 years to meet the Goal 2020 target.
But depending on who you ask, different analyses derive different figures on the wage increase for this year. One report indicated a wage increase of about 2.8 per cent but if it includes part-time and casual workers the figure drops to 0.1per cent. In the unionised sector, the projected average Total Basic Wage Adjustment is 4.30 per cent. Numbers can be confusing.”
Zainal Sapari: “The National Bonus is a more inclusive measure of how economic growth impacts Singaporeans, especially low and middle income Singaporeans. It moves away from merely taking GDP growth as an absolute and looking at it in a more holistic manner as the growth itself does not mean that everyone is better off as a result of it or has higher salaries.
On that note, I would like to propose that the indicator involving the real growth rate of the wages of the lowest percentile of citizens be given a higher weightage of about 40 per cent to give greater emphasis on the importance of increasing the wages of this group of workers.
Should this indicator be given 40 per cent, the other three indicators should be given an equal weightage of 20 per cent each. This is important as it will signal a greater need for emphasis to be placed on increasing the income of those at the 20th percentile of working Singaporeans as these people are the ones most in need of income growth.
In fact, statistics have shown that incomes of those in the lower end of the strata have stagnated or seen very little growth over the last decade, even as our economy continued to prosper. As a Labour MP, I would like our government to send a clear message that we are a caring government which places low-wage workers as one of our top priorities.”