Singapore civil servants to get year-end bonus lower than last year's in line with gloomy economy

The authorities say around 1,900 civil servants will benefit from the minimum AVC payment of S$900.

Singapore civil servants to get half-month year-end bonus, says Public Service Division
People are reflected on a poster of 50 Singapore dollar bills as they cross the road near the central business district in Singapore in this April 14, 2015 file photo. Reuters

Singapore Public Service Division (PSD) announced on Friday that civil servants will receive a half-month year-end bonus, while lower-wage civil servants will receive a minimum of S$900.

In July, the authorities announced a 0.45-month mid-year bonus. But in addition to that the civil servants will get a full-year annual variable component (AVC) of 0.95 month in 2016. This year, the total of AVC is 0.2 month lower than last year's full-year AVC of 1.15 months, with a minimum year-end payment of S$1,100.

"The lower AVC is in line with the lower economic growth for 2016 compared with 2015," PSD said in a media statement. "The Singapore economy grew by 1.1 per cent on a year-on-year basis in 3Q16, slower than the 2.0 per cent growth in the previous quarter. The Singapore economy grew at a slower pace of 1.7 per cent in the first three quarters of 2016, compared to 2.1 per cent over the same period a year ago," it said.

PSD added: "Taking into account the global and domestic economic environment, the Ministry of Trade and Industry has forecast that the economy will grow by 1.0 per cent to 1.5 per cent for the whole of 2016."

Around 1,900 civil servants will apparently benefit from the minimum AVC payment of S$900. "For example, an officer earning a monthly salary of S$1,500 will get a year-end AVC of S$900. This is S$150 more than what he would get at 0.50 month of his monthly salary (which would have been S$750)," PSD said.

The authorities said PSD consulted with the public sector unions before announcing the year-end AVC payment, including the minimum payment.

The Assistant Secretary-General of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), Cham Hui Fong said the labour movement and public sector unions are quite "supportive" of the lower quantum although the total payout package is "relatively lower than recent years".

"In light of the narrowing GDP growth forecast ... coupled with the uncertain outlook for 2017, the payout package fairly reflects the Government's financial prudence while taking into account the recommendations by the National Wages Council," Cham told Channel NewsAsia.

"The labour movement, the public sector unions as well as the relevant Government agencies will continue to push ahead with targeted measures to collectively help our working people up-skill and re-skill, and be ready to take on future jobs during an up-turn," she added.

According to G Muthukumarasamy, General Secretary of the Amalgamated Union of Public Daily Rated Workers (AUPDRW), the pay scale will "go a longer way to help our low-wage workers".

He also pointed noted that this change was "a timely sum to help our members cope with year-end expenditure, such as (their) children's education and back-to-school spending."

Yeo Chun Fing, General Secretary of the Amalgamated Union of Public Employees (AUPE) said that AUPE "understands that the rewards for civil servants have to be moderated" but that it is nevertheless "appreciative" of the 2016 payout.

"Our civil servants have been working tirelessly to deliver quality public services and push forth initiatives to boost our economy, transform our industries and uplift the skills of our working people," Yeo said.

"We look forward to better rewards when the economy recovers," he added.

The authorities said that all civil servants will also receive the non-pensionable annual allowance (NPAA) of one month. The allowance will be paid a,ong with the AVC in December.