In Focus
ECONOMY | Staff Reporter, Hong Kong

Pay hikes in store for government ministers

A proposed pay increase for Hong Kong’s government ministers is quite generous.

It would increase the monthly salary of the city’s government ministers by 8.1% to an annual US$513,000. The plan, however, still needs approval by the legislature. It also caps salaries for certain officials at lower levels than before.

Under the proposed increase, the Chief Executive would receive US$620,843 per year. This figure, while higher than the US$400,000 paid to U.S. President Barack Obama, is far lower than the salary of Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong who makes US$1.7 million annually.

It does, however, dwarf the salaries of mainland Chinese ministers who make about US$22,000 a year.

Analysts say high government salaries help Hong Kong maintain its reputation for clean government by limiting the temptation to accept bribes and other perks. The government is well able to afford the pay increases since its reserves stand at a US$87.16 billion.

Secretary for constitutional and mainland affairs Raymond Tam described the pay raise as moderate. He noted that ministers haven’t gotten a pay raise in 10 years.

Critics, however, assailed the news. They noted that increasing the salaries of government employees to over 30 times that of ordinary Hong Kong employees would worsen Hong Kong’s already huge problem of income inequality,

The median domestic monthly income in Hong Kong is US$2,639.

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