The report on a Written Answer provided by DPM Teo in response to a question tabled by WP MP Pritam Singh nearly made me fall off my chair..

A sum of 860,000 dollars was paid to a human resource company (Mercer) for its work in assisting the Ministerial Salaries Review Committee by providing its technical expertise on human resource and remuneration issues.

Immediately, questions started racing through my head…. Here they are in random order….

Why was there a need to get an external consultancy to provide assistance? Wasn’t the Salaries Review Committee itself possessed with sufficient skills for the job? If they were not sufficiently skilled, why not appoint persons to the committee that had the necessary skills?

Was the Committee specifically authorised by subsidiary legislation to call for consultancies from the private sector to bid for the project? The Committee itself performed delegated functions and accordingly could not have delegated this function to 3rd parties unless there was lawful authorisation. What was the lawful authorisation given to the Committee to obtain the assistance of a private company?

Assuming that such authorisation existed, what was/were the terms of reference given to Mercer? What was in Mercer’s report to the Committee? Did Mercer make any recommendations for the reduction of salaries and if so, how much of a reduction. To what extent was the Committee’s findings based on or influenced by the recommendations of Mercer? Why was there no indication previously about the existence this outsourcing arrangement?

Let’s forget about what has happened, Can the report by Mercer be released to the public now? The 860,000 is taxpayers’ money. We deserve to know what was in the report by Mercer. If it cannot be released or the politicians deem it undesirable to be released, what is the reason or justification for not releasing the Mercer report?

So many questions… what are the answers?