The fallout from COVID-19 has hit businesses hard. To navigate through these uncertain times and to ensure their survival, many have taken steps such as freezing wages, bonuses, and/or hiring, to mitigate cost pressures. Our Ministers and the civil service should follow suit.
Government-linked Temasek Holdings has frozen wages across the board, for an indeterminate period, depending on how the COVID-19 situations develop. The top management have also been asked to accept voluntary pay reductions for up to a year. On top of that, these senior management also face possible cuts to their annual bonus quantums.
The national carrier, Singapore Airlines (SIA), are considering similar steps to cut costs. Apart from cutting down on flights, the company is considering asking staff to go on voluntary no-pay leave. SIA is also implemented a recruitment freeze for all ground positions.
Another company which is adopting similar measures is CapitaLand Ltd. They will be implementing a salary freeze, while the senior management will face reductions in their base salaries and fees.
The moves by the companies are not only practical and rational, but also symbolic.
It demonstrates solidarity with every Singaporean, regardless of their income levels. Paycuts for the senior management are not likely to have the same impact on somoneone who earns less than $1500 a month.
Hence, it is only fair that the miillionaire Ministers as well as the biggest employers in Singapore, the civil service, follow suit. They should institute similar pay freeze across the board, and/or cuts in bonuses for the senior management.
Such savings will not only protect jobs in the short-term, it will also enable the country to ride on the wave of progress, once COVID-19 is no longer threatening.