Leader of the Opposition, Workers’ Party MP Pritam Singh, has questioned the need for Community Development Councils and the highly-paid mayors that run them.
Speaking in parliament on Wednesday (24Feb), Mr Singh said that many Singaporeans are of the view that mayors’ salaries are “outrageous” because they do not commensurate with their roles and functions.
Mayors are paid an annual salary of S$660,000.
Said Mr Singh:
“Effectively, the need for mayors, full-time mayors, continues to be widely questioned and it would appear that there is scope for a serious review of the necessity of having full-time mayors today.”
There are 5 CDCs, each headed by a mayor, and their combined annual salaries are costing Singapore taxpayers over S$3 million a year.
Mr Singh also called for a “serious review” of CDCs, saying:
“Singaporeans are of the view that the CDCs’ functions can be carried out by other existing entities, or by ministries and statutory boards, including other organisations under the People’s Association.”
Mr Singh pointed out that the government allocated S$20 million to CDCs in last year’s Unity Budget, and increased this to S$75 million a month later in the Resilience Budget.
Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat, who is also Finance Minister, had announced during his Budget speech on Feb 16 that all Singaporean households will get S$100 worth of CDC vouchers for use in heartland shops and hawker centres.
Referring to the move, Mr Singh said:
“It would appear to me as if the Government is trying to find some way to make the CDCs relevant in view of their relative absence in the public mindshare.”
The government purports that the purpose of CDCs coordinate grassroots bodies and manage community programmes, with the aim of bringing the community closer.