Generous bonus for Singapore civil servants

SINGAPORE: Singapore’s 74,000 civil servants will get a year—end bonus of two months inclusive of the 13th—month pay.

This is on top of the half—month bonus plus S$300 received in July. Together with the year—end payment, the total variable payment for 2010 will be 2.5 months and S$300.

Last year, because of the economic slump, the payout was just 0.25 months, capped at S$750.

In addition, a Growth Bonus — now known as the Special Variable Payment (SVP) — will be paid in March 2011 to eligible civil servants, after a three—year absence.

This year’s bonus is perhaps one of the most generous payouts to civil servants, thanks to the strong economic recovery.

"The Singapore economy has recovered strongly and expanded by 17.9% in the first half of 2010. The Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) has forecast the 2010 GDP growth at around 15%," said the Public Service Division (PSD) in a statement on Wednesday.

For this, civil servants will be rewarded.

The SVP is payable when there is exceptionally good economic growth, and the quantum varies depending on individual performance.

In March 2011, good performers will receive one month of SVP and better performers will receive more, up to 1.6 months, while poor performers will not receive any SVP.

NTUC deputy secretary—general Halimah Yacob said: "I’m really happy, because the government paid in 2007 a Growth Bonus of half a month, and that is because the growth was 7.7%.

"This year’s growth will be really much better than 2007, so we felt that the civil servants definitely deserve better Growth Bonus compared to 2007. So we had negotiations with the Public Service Division and I’m very happy that they recognised and took into consideration the contributions of all civil servants."

Union leaders also welcomed the bonus announcement.

Mr Teo Yock Ngee, general secretary of Amalgamated Union of Public Employees (AUPE) and NTUC secretary for financial affairs, said: "Given Singapore’s good economic performance in 2010, the AUPE welcomes the PSD’s decision for a year—end payment of two months. We also look forward to the Special Variable Payment (formerly known as Growth Bonus) to reward good performers. We are glad of the government’s recognition of support and hard work by its employees in these good times."

Mr G Muthukumarasamy, general secretary of Amalgamated Union of Public Daily Rated Workers, added: "We are very happy with the announcement and thank the government because for AUPDRW’s union members, who are daily—rated workers, this year—end payment will help our lower—wage workers to meet their daily expenses. We also urge our members to set some funds aside and save for a rainy day."

Private—sector companies are expected to take the lead from the public sector.

The employers federation expects companies to give out bonuses averaging about 2.5 months — that’s about half a month more than last year. Unionised companies are expected to give a little more.

Stephen Lee, president of Singapore National Employers Federation, said: "We would like to urge companies to reward workers fairly and also to reward workers for the sacrifices that they have gone through last year to pull our companies through."

The government, though, has again decided to defer the salary adjustments for Administrative Officers, political, judicial and statutory appointment holders.

That’s because of the reduction in private sector benchmarks last year.

PSD said the government will "monitor the economic growth and movement of the benchmarks before making any subsequent decision on when to implement the salary adjustment".

The third and last phase of the salary adjustments was due in January 2009, but has been deferred twice since then. The first two adjustments were made in April 2007 and January 2008.

Minister—in—charge of the Civil Service, Teo Chee Hean, said: "Civil servants accepted a wage reduction during the difficult economic times and worked hard to help turn the economy around quickly.

"The year—end payment and Special Variable Payment to be paid in March next year recognise the contribution of our civil servants in helping Singapore recover from one of its worst recessions.

"To ensure that Singapore can continue to grow, we will have to work even harder to raise productivity and find new ways of expanding the economy."

The payout may be good but experts are also tempering sentiments saying that workers should manage their expectations.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has said that the blistering growth this year cannot continue and Singapore is unlikely to achieve double—digit growth next year.

— CNA/ir