MPs’ pay in Singapore and other countries

Singapore's members of parliament are paid more than the members of the House of Commons and the European Parliament and their counterparts in Australia, Canada, Hong Kong and New Zealand.

Singapore S$225,000 ($166,000)
USA $174,000 ($174,000)
Japan ¥1,300,000 a month ($15,200 a month,i.e  $182,000 a year).
UK £65,738 ($103,000)
European Parliament €7,665 a month ($9,880 a month, i.e, over $118,500 a year)
Canada C$155,400 ($151,000)
Australia A$131,040 ($118,000)
New Zealand NZ$144,500 ($103,000)

(Table shows annual salaries unless mentioned otherwise.)

I discovered this after reading that the Indian parliament plans to treble its members' salaries. The Financial Times report says: "Parliamentarians in the world’s largest democracy currently receive Rs16,000 ($343, €266, £220) a month."

That's less than a day's pay for a Singapore MP.

Singapore MPs, paid S$13,710 a month, get an annual salary of S$225,00 (nearly $166,000). Here is the government press release announcing the pay rise for the President, ministers, MPs and civil servants effective since January 1, 2008.

But a London School of Economics study says: "In Singapore, MPs receive a relatively low salary, compared to top civil servant positions and ministers."

The Prime Minister's salary went up to S$115,920 a month – S$3.76 million a year – and the President's to S$119,520 a month – S$3.87 million a year – in 2008.

Lawmakers' salaries in other countries

American and Japanese lawmakers are paid more than Singapore MPs. The current salary for US senators and Congressmen is is $174,000 a year, according to The US president's salary was raised from $200,000 to $400,000 a year when George W. Bush took office in 2001.

Japanese Diet members are paid about ¥1.3 million ($15,200) a month, according to a report in Japan Today. Their annual salary then is more than $182,400.

The annual salary of MPs in Britain is £65,738 (nearly $103,000) as of 1 April 2010, according to the UK parliament website's frequently asked questions page on MPs.

Members of the European Parliament, according to  its website, have been getting a pre-tax salary of €7,665 a month since July 2009. That comes to €91,900  (about $118,500) a year.

The annual salary of Canadian members of Parliament is C$155,400 (about $151,000), according to a Wikipedia article on the House of Commons of Canada.

The base salary for an Australian MP is A$131,040 (about S118,000) per year, effective since October 1, 2009, according to the Australian government remuneration tribunal.

The base salary for a New Zealand MP is NZ$144,500 a year (about $103,000), according to the New Zealand parliament website, which has a document on parliamentary salaries and allowances.

The Hong Kong Legislative Council members receive HK$69,430 a month, effective since October 1, 2009, according to a Council document on remuneration and benefits for LegCo members.  They are also entitled to HK$26,600 a year to cover their medical expenses – and an end-of-term gratuity equivalent to 15 per cent of their  remuneration.

Singapore MPs are eligible for pensions. A Wikipedia article on the parliament of Singapore says:

Persons who have reached the age of 50 years and retired as MPs and who have served in this capacity for not less than nine years may be granted a pension for the rest of their lives. The annual amount payable is 130 of the person's highest annual salary for every completed year of service and 1360 for every uncompleted year, up to a ceiling of two-thirds of the member's annual salary.

American lawmakers, members of the European Parliament (MEPs) as well as MPs in Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand also have pension benefits.

In America, members of Congress become eligible for a pension at:

  • Any age if they have completed 25 years of service
  • At the age of 50 if they have completed 20 years of service
  • At 62 if they have served for at least five years.

The starting amount of a member's retirement annuity may not exceed 80 per cent of his or her final salary.

MEPs are entitled to an old-age pension from the age of 63.

London School of Economics study

The London School of Economics study on MPs' salaries in Commonwealth countries says:

Singapore’s economic rise in the 1970s put considerable pressure on the logic that senior civil servants but not legislations should enjoy higher salary levels. Historically Lee Kwan Yew, the chairman of the PAP, had argued in favour of high (salaries) for civil servants only, presenting it as an essential tool to curb corruption, and avoid brain drain to the private sector.

Conversely, Lee Kwan Yew declared that he kept his salary as low as S$3,500 during that period to send a signal to the citizens that Singapore needed sacrifice and hard work to succeed.However, as soon as the Singaporean economy picked up in the 1970s, Singapore started to link legislative salaries to economic performance. The higher level of salary in the private sectors was luring people away from the public sector…

In the case of Singapore, the PAP has been running the country now for almost five decade. Since the PAP is therefore continuously interacting with the public,the relatively low salary of the MPs could be interpreted as a direct result… The more stable a country is, the less the legislators are likely to be paid. Singapore, a very stable country, has indeed a low salary compared to the rest of the high public officers…

Here you can download the LSE study, done for the World Bank Institute, in 2007-2008.