The President and Political Appointees Should Return Their Year End Bonuses
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China)
December 11, 2013
Summary: Legislators only know how to point the finger at others. Let us examine their performance and cost. Shouldn't they engage in a little soul searching of their own? Many bills remain frozen in the legislature. Others pander to populist sentiment. Can legislators answer to the taxpayers for the quality and quantity of their legislation?
Full text below:
The economy will not grow by 2% this year. It will not grow by 3% next year. Across the board price increases and food safety crises have left the public anxious. Public resentment is not hard to imagine. A number of legislators have called for the firing of cabinet ministers and the cancellation of year end bonuses, especially for those ministers responsible for fiscal and economic affairs. This may give some people a little temporary satisfaction. It may enable some legislators to make headlines. It may make for a good show. But such humiliations do do more than cut these ministers' incomes. They also undermine the morale and dignity of the ministers and their subordinates. They may even undermine fairness within the cabinet system. If ministers responsible for the economy fail to perform, are they the only ones who ought to be reprimanded?
The purpose of cutting official salaries is not to "decapitate" them. Cutting salaries has two serious implications. First, the economic environment is poor. People's incomes have stagnated. Officials feel their pain. They are willing to cut their salaries. After all, their salaries come out of the taxpayers' pockets. Salaries for the general public are not expected to increase, and may even decrease. Official salaries being cut, or year-end bonuses being withheld, is only natural.
Secondly, salary cuts let those in office know that their performance was unsatisfactory, due either to insufficient effort, or despite their best efforts. Salary cuts are a way to express repentance.
Whether the former or the latter, it is important to increase government responsiveness. Key government officials must seize the initiative. In May 2012, Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto made a suggestion during his election campaign. Salaries for civil servants come from taxes paid by the public. Civil service salary levels must never be higher than those in the private sector. If elected mayor, he promised to make the wages of city officials commensurate with those of corporate employees. After taking office, Toru Hashimoto cut salaries by one third. Osaka municipal government and municipal labor union negotiations led to a phased salary reduction plan.
Following the 3/11 earthquake, financial resources were required for reconstruction. In February 2012, the Japanese government proposed a national civil service wage bill. From April 2012 to March 2014, the average wage for all public servants was cut by 7.8%.
In 2008, the global economy slowed. The Singaporean government cut pay for the Prime Minister, Ministers, and high-level civil servants for the next year, by 11 to 19 percent, so they would share the public's pain. At the time, some elected representatives on Taiwan demanded that political appointees emulate Singapore, and take the lead by cutting their own pay. But some cabinet ministers felt that the payment methods for Taiwan and Singapore were different. The same rules were not applicable here. Singapore pays cabinet ministers the same amount as private sector CEOs. Salaries for officials on Taiwan are far lower. There is much less room for cuts.
This is reasonable. But lest we forget, different countries have different per capita incomes. Are salaries for government officials high or low? One cannot simply make comparisons between one country and another. One must also make comparison within any given country. In other words, one must compare net incomes, including various allowances, against the private sector and the general public. Secondly, suppose salaries for high-level government officials or civil servants are made commensurate with those in private enterprise. Their compensation must also be linked to their performance, to Key Performance Indicators (KPI). When the KPI is high, they receive pay increases. When the KPI slips, their pay must be cut accordingly. Similarly, lawmakers' salaries should be based on legislative performance. They should be commensurate with the private sector and the general public.
Recently some have proposed that ministers should be paid according to the "misery index," adjusted in accordance with the unemployment rate and inflation rate. This may be emotionalistic, but it is not without some basis. According to DGBAS statistics, Taiwan's latest misery index is higher than those of neighboring South Korea and Singapore. Don't even mention average salaries. Salaries on Taiwan have not increased in 16 years.
Economic growth has been less than expected. Legislators have decided to cut CEPD Kuan Chung-min's year-end bonus by half. The other half has been frozen on a probationary basis. It will be unfrozen based on Taiwan's future economic performance.
The CEPD is responsible for the overall planning of the economy. Its performance has been poor. Naturally, the chairman is responsible. But the selective pay cuts proposed by elected representatives is not a good policy. Moreover, when it comes to responsibility, the president and the premier are national leaders. As the CEOs of the nation, shouldn't they bear even more responsibility?
The year is about to end. But year-end bonuses in the private sector have been disappointing. According a Job Bank survey they have hit a four year low. Public sentiment is not hard to imagine. High ranking government officials must acknowledge these realities. What are they thinking, and what will they do?
Legislators only know how to point the finger at others. Let us examine their performance and cost. Shouldn't they engage in a little soul searching of their own? Many bills remain frozen in the legislature. Others pander to populist sentiment. Can legislators answer to the taxpayers for the quality and quantity of their legislation?
中國時報 本報訊 2013年12月11日 04:09
此言不能說無理，但是別忘了，各國平均國民所得不同，政府官員的薪資究竟是高還是低，不只是要有國與國之間的橫向比較，更應該要有該國內的縱向比較，也就是說，其總收入（含各項津貼）與一般任職於民間企業者相較如何。其次，若是政務官或者高階公務人員的薪資比照民間企業，那麼其薪資報酬是必須與經營績效（KPI，Key Performance Indicators，關鍵業績指標）連動的，也就是說，當KPI高的時候可以加薪，一旦KPI滑落收入自然就減少了。同理，立法委員也要看立法績效，縱向與一般任職於民間企業者比照敘薪也。