Should politicians be paid more?

Richard Branson

The UK MPs' expenses watchdog is today recommending a pay rise for MPs of more than 6,000, while calling for other allowances to be cut. While it is poor timing with a pay freeze in other areas of the public sector, there is evidence to suggest paying politicians more could be a good thing for the country if the number of MPs was cut and it didn't cost the country more.

In business the most talented people are interested in working in important roles with high pressure, high workloads - and high salaries. Because of the rewards, companies are able to attract the best people into senior positions.

Therefore, I believe countries would be able to attract higher quality politicians by offering them greater rewards too. Most politicians around the world are paid very poorly, when you consider the importance of their jobs and the responsibility they hold.


One of the exceptions to this rule is Singapore, where politicians are paid the equivalent of what they would get if they were successful businesspersons. Despite recent pay cuts, the Prime Minister of Singapore still earns around four times more than President Barack Obama.


As a result, Singapore has attracted extremely talented people into its political system, and has been transformed into a highly successful country. It is a model worth following and I think other nations should follow Singapore's lead and increase the pay of their politicians.


This would be an unpopular move in these times of austerity, but there is research to suggest paying politicians more improves quality, such as in this excellent Freakonomics piece.


In countries where corruption is rife, politicians would be less likely to commit offences, while a new generation of talented young people would be attracted to politics.


The cost could be offset by drastically reducing the number of politicians, as most countries still have far too many. Many of the systems were set up to account for the difficulty of reaching your constituents; but in the age of modern travel and communication, there is less need. In the UK, for example, it would make a lot of sense to reduce the size of parliament, keep the best and pay them accordingly.


By helping produce more efficient, effective governments this could actually contribute to improving the global economy and help governments have a positive impact upon people's lives.


What do you think? Should politicians be paid more - if it doesn't cost the country more?

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