Lower bonus for civil ser­vants amid weak eco­nomic out­look

Most will get 0.1 month bonus, $250 to $1.5k lump sum in Dec as Govt ex­er­cises restraint

The Straits Times - - FRONT PAGE - Grace Ho Se­nior Po­lit­i­cal Correspond­ent [email protected]

Most of Sin­ga­pore’s 85,000 civil ser­vants will get a year-end bonus that is the low­est in 10 years, amid the weak per­for­mance of the Sin­ga­pore econ­omy and its un­cer­tain out­look.

They will re­ceive 0.1 month plus an ad­di­tional one-off lump-sum pay­ment of $250 to $1,500.

Civil ser­vants in the lower pay grades, how­ever, will get higher lump-sum pay­outs – an on­go­ing gov­ern­ment prac­tice to sup­port ju­nior grade of­fi­cers. The move will see about 2,200 of­fi­cers in Grades III to V of the Op­er­a­tions Sup­port Scheme get­ting the top lump sum of $1,500.

Se­nior civil ser­vants in su­per­scale grades, num­ber­ing around 1,700, will be given a one-off pay­ment of $400, without the 0.1 month an­nual vari­able com­po­nent (AVC).

The lower bonus was an­nounced by the Pub­lic Ser­vice Divi­sion (PSD) yes­ter­day.

It said: “Tak­ing into ac­count the pre­vail­ing eco­nomic un­cer­tain­ties, the PSD, in consultati­on with and with the sup­port of the pub­lic sec­tor unions, will ex­er­cise restraint for the year-end bonus pay­ment.”

As the civil ser­vice is Sin­ga­pore’s big­gest em­ployer, its bonus is closely watched by the pri­vate sec­tor, while statu­tory boards and other gov­ern­ment agen­cies take their cue from it.

This year’s December pay­out is a sharp drop from those of the last two years, when civil ser­vants re­ceived an AVC of one month and lower-wage of­fi­cers were given at least $1,800.

Also lower was this year’s midyear AVC, which was paid in July. It was 0.45 month plus a one-off lump sum of $200, with lower-grade work­ers get­ting $300. Last year, the cor­re­spond­ing fig­ures were 0.5 month, $300 and $500.

All civil ser­vants will also get the one-month non-pen­sion­able an­nual al­lowance, com­monly re­ferred to as the 13th month bonus. It will be paid this month with the year-end AVC and lump-sum pay­ments. When com­bined, their to­tal bonus this year is 1.55 months plus the one-off lump-sum pay­ments, com­pared with 2.5 months plus lump-sum pay­ments in the last two years.

The cur­rent 1.55-month bonus is the low­est since the 2009 global fi­nan­cial cri­sis when Sin­ga­pore suf­fered neg­a­tive growth.

Civil ser­vants then re­ceived, apart from their 13th month bonus, a one-off year-end pay­ment of 0.25 month, capped at $750.

Min­is­ter-in-charge of the Pub­lic Ser­vice Chan Chun Sing said in a note to civil ser­vants yes­ter­day: “Our eco­nomic out­look re­mains un­cer­tain and chal­leng­ing with down­side risks.”

Mr Chan, who is also the Trade and In­dus­try Min­is­ter, added: “I am con­fi­dent that with the right val­ues and con­tin­ued hard work, we will ride out the choppy wa­ters to­gether.” His min­istry has forecast that the econ­omy will grow by 0.5 per cent to 1 per cent this year.

While the res­i­dent un­em­ploy­ment rate re­mains low, the un­em­ploy­ment rate for non-PMETs (pro­fes­sion­als, man­agers, ex­ec­u­tives and tech­ni­cians) rose slightly, from 4 per cent a year ago to 4.7 per cent in June this year.

NTUC as­sis­tant sec­re­tary-gen­eral Cham Hui Fong said that in view of the un­cer­tain out­look, the pub­lic sec­tor unions, com­pris­ing the Amal­ga­mated Union of Pub­lic Daily Rated Work­ers and the Amal­ga­mated Union of Pub­lic Em­ploy­ees (AUPE), agreed on a “cal­i­brated ap­proach” to give more to lower-grade of­fi­cers.

AUPE gen­eral sec­re­tary Sanjeev Ti­wari noted that with the lump sum, Op­er­a­tions Sup­port Scheme of­fi­cers can ex­pect to re­ceive a ful­lyear AVC of more than one month.

May­bank Kim Eng se­nior econ­o­mist Chua Hak Bin told The Straits Times that the lower bonus re­flects the “un­cer­tain and som­bre” eco­nomic re­al­ity.

CHAL­LENGES AHEAD

Our eco­nomic out­look re­mains un­cer­tain and chal­leng­ing with down­side risks... I am con­fi­dent that with the right val­ues and con­tin­ued hard work, we will ride out the choppy wa­ters to­gether.

’’

MIN­IS­TER-IN-CHARGE OF THE PUB­LIC SER­VICE CHAN CHUN SING, in an in­ter­nal note to civil ser­vants yes­ter­day.

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