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Parliamentary Replies

Expected Increase in Number of Civil Servants

19 Jan 2015

Date: 19 January 2015

Parliamentary Question by Mr Seah Kian Peng:

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance with the rise in the number of agencies such as the Municipal Services Office and the Smart Nation Programme Office (a) what is the expected increase in the number of civil servants over the next two years; (b) whether provisions have been made specifically to cater for public relations, especially towards customer satisfaction; and (c) how will these affect the Government's budget and what provisions have been made.

Reply by DPM and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam:

The Government has consistently strived to maintain a lean and efficient Public Service. As at end 2014, the total staff strength of the Singapore Public Service, which includes ministries and statutory boards, was estimated at about 143,000 [1], or about 4% of our labour force.[2][3]

More manpower and new units may be needed from time to time to implement new programmes or deliver enhanced services. The Government’s approach is to ensure that the manpower requirements are rightly sized, and to redeploy staff from existing functions wherever possible. This has helped to prevent over-expansion of public sector manpower over time.

In the past 10 years, the public sector workforce grew at an annual rate of about 2.5%[4], which is lower than Singapore’s labour force growth of 4.1% per annum over the same period. We expect the growth of public sector employment to be maintained at roughly this pace over the next few years. This is because agencies need additional capacity to implement the new strategic programmes such as in healthcare services and security. It will also provide for enhancements in areas such as service delivery. The setting up of the Municipal Service Office (MSO) is one example of how we will make public services more citizen-centric.

The public sector continues to improve its efficiency and productivity, such as through greater use of IT and automation and upskilling of public officers. Over the longer term, we also have in place a Manpower Management Framework to keep public sector manpower growth at a sustainable rate in line with resident labour force growth. These measures have and will aim to keep the public sector workforce lean and manpower expenditure low.


[1] 143,000 is a preliminary estimate.

[2] Or 6.5% of our resident labour force.

[3] Source: Government at a Glance 2013, OECD

[4] The figure has been adjusted to exclude manpower numbers of corporatised agencies such as Cisco, NUS and NTU before their corporatisation from the public sector total.