Friday, November 23, 2007

The Disappearing Subsidy....

Yes, the GST hike is to help the poor.

Yes, means testing is to help the poor.

Charity shows also help the poor.....

Why are there so many poor people in the richest nation in the region?...

Given Singapore is now so affluent, one would expect more subsidies for the poor. There are many people impoverished by rising cost as their incomes remain relatively unchanged. My relative who is a technician is one of them. Having a family to support, he gets by by pinching on everything. ..every dollar counts. ...with the recent bout of increases there was even greater pressure to cut down. Unfortunately his daughter got sick on Saturday and was sent to A&E. The doctor wanted to admit her for observation. Mindful of the need to save, he asked for class "C". He was told by the admissions clerk that it was not available. When the govt tells us subsidised care exists, it does not mean it is available for those who need it. You want subsidised dental care? Go arrange it at the polyclinic where you have to wait for months. Has the availability of subsidised care has been reduced as the cost of medical care rose? Many poor Singaporeans don't even go seek emergency medical treatment at the A&E when they need it because one of the first thing the hospital does before they treat you is to collect $75.

As Singapore aspires to be a medical hub, it expands its capacity to treat the private foreign patients which include millionaires from Indonesia, Middle East and the occasional junta leader who is not denied medical care for humanitarian reasons.

If you are very poor and need medical care, what do you do? Some have no choice but to appeal to the public during the NKF shows or the Cancer Charity Show. The money donated goes to a charity that is regulated by the "light touch" of our govt, hopefully you get some of it for your medical treatment. Singaporeans are compassionate people, they feel alot better after donating to charity.
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By Leong Sze Hian

After watching the Cancer Charity Show, my friend’s sister, a 50 plus housewife, was so depressed, that she jumped from the 10th floor of her HDB flat, the day after the show. As I watched elderly sick Singaporeans pleading during the show, that they have no money for medical treatment, medicine, and one lady who said that she did not even have 10 cents, the first thought that came into my mind, was isn’t there Medifund to help those who cannot pay for medical fees and Comcare to help the poor ? Since the reason given for raising the GST, was to help the poor, and the hike has already been implemented on 1 July, why do we keep hearing of pleas for help from the sick and the needy ? I would like to suggest that a detailed breakdown be given of what and how the estimated $ 1.5 billion from the GST hike will be used to help the poor. Too much resources for fund raising? According to a ChannelNewsAsia report: “Fifteen groups sharing different religious faiths came together as one on Sunday to raise funds in a big way for community projects in Aljunied GRC. At the community bonding carnival in Hougang, each of the groups, including the Singapore Buddhist Lodge and Jamiyah Singapore, set up a stall either selling food or organising games for residents. A maximum of S$350,000 in tickets was sold and the proceeds will go towards new facilities for the GRC’s Bedok Reservoir-Punggol division. The carnival is the first in a series of fund-raisers involving the religious groups in the constituency. Beneficiaries include the 19-year-old Punggol Community Club – expected to cost millions to refurbish - a Dragon Boat House at Bedok Reservoir Park and a kidney dialysis centre.” Are we directing too much resouces in our fund raisng activities for “new facilities for the GRC”, refurbishing a Community Club, Dragon Boat House, etc, at the expense of funds for the needy? All of the above manifestations may be attributed to the root cause of the problem, which is the widening income gap. The ever-widening income gap In this connection, I refer to the article “Bigger but unequal pay gains seen for ‘08” (BT, Nov 19). It states that “Manual workers, again at the bottom of the payout scale, are likely to get a merit raise of 3.7 per cent in 2008, compared to 3 per cent in 2007”. With increasing inflation expected to hit 4.5 per cent by 2008, the median wage increase for manual workers may in effect be a negative increase in wages in real items. This may further contribute to the widening income gap, which was one of three major challenges facing Singapore as highlighted by Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong recently. In this connection, according to the Reuters news report “Singapore’s economic boom widens income gap” of 9 November, “the proportion of Singapore residents earning less than S$1,000 (US$690) a month rose to 18 percent last year, from 16 percent in 2002, central bank data released late last month show… and Singapore’s Gini coefficient, a measure of income inequality, has worsened from 42.5 in 1998 to 47.2 in 2006, and is now in league with the Philippines (46.1) and Guatemala (48.3), and worse than China (44.7), data from Singapore’s Household Survey and the World Bank show”. I refer also to media reports that Taiwan is becoming an M-shaped society because of the widening income gap, and that the number of Singapore millionaires could soar to 29,000 by 2011. Last year, the top 20 per cent of Taiwanese households earned six times more than the bottom 20 per cent. In contrast, using data from the Department of Statistics’ Key Household Income Trends 2006, the top 20 per cent of households in Singapore, earned about 12 times more than the bottom 20 per cent, based on the “Average Monthly Income from Work Per Household Member Among Employed Households by Decile”. Does the above mean that the income gap is about 6 times more than the Taiwanese ? In Taiwan, the average household at the top earned $ 82,300 (NT $ 1.82 million), whereas it was $ 13,700 (NT $ 304,000) for the average household at the bottom. In comparison, Singapore’s top decile by average monthly per household member was $ 83,880, versus $ 3,600 for the bottom decile. From the above, if we assume three members per household, the top earned $ 251,640 and the bottom $ 10,800. So does it mean that we earn about 205 per cent more at the top, and about 21 per cent less at the bottom, when compared to the Taiwanese, on this basis ? (Note : As the household income data is not given in decile format, I have used the per capita household income data in the above analysis. This analysis has been quite difficult because of the selective availability of data for different time periods.) Helping the poor? In Taiwan, some $ 11.3 billion (NT $ 250 billion) was handed out to the poor in assistance schemes that included monthly subsidies of up to $ 270 (NT $ 6,000) for the elderly. In Singapore, about 3,000 destitutes get $ 290 a month in welfare. How much do the elderly poor in Singapore get a month ? Since the reason given for raising GST was to help the poor, how much was spent last year helping the poor, and how much will be spent this year following the GST increase ? As a point of comparison, Singapore’s per capita Gross National Income was $ 45,353 in 2006, compared to Taiwan’s, estimated to be about $ 42,000. The poor in Taiwan pay $ 18 (NT $ 400) a month for a 36-sq-m rental flat. In Singapore, a 1-room HDB rental flat starts at $ 44.50 ($ 26 rental plus $ 18.50 Service and Conservancy Charges) for households earning not more that $ 800 a month. Those earning more pay higher rentals. In view of the above comparative statistics, I would like to suggest that we review some of our policies like the extra 1 per cent interest on the first $ 60,000 of CPF, because the poor may stand to gain less relative to the rich, as they may have lower CPF balances. The $ 700 million that the extra 1 per cent will cost, may be better directed to the poor instead.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

hi, wow this 2 post have deviated your style of blogging which i've been following :)

the situation in singapore does get on my nerves... and it's sad that we have such a income gap and with the influx of foreigners... it's gonna get worse...

however do keep up your style of blogging :)

Anonymous said...

Sometimes, it appears to me that Singapore is moving forward at hell-bent speed towards the day of reckoning.

yamizi said...

Slowing down the raise on ERP, GST, sugar, etc will be deem a miracle already...

Anonymous said...

Talking about subsidised dental care, if you are sick and fragile, you may probably not live long enough to get your dentures fixed because you have to wait months or even years.

Anonymous said...

Subsidy and welfare are two very bad words to the PAP. The must be stuck in the 1980s and 1990s mentality when any business venture you touched became gold. Making money nowadays not so easy already. If the ghamen want to increase price, sure there must be a limit. Can't blame ppl for being quitters if life in Sg becomes intolerable, and plus welcoming foreigners so they could keep their profit margin up is also not correct. If only the NTUC was a real trade union...

Anonymous said...

Let me say it again; please refrain from donating to charities. Your contributions will result in someone neglecting its' duty to look after its' citizens.

You want to let them a good reason not to do its' duty? Please think about it!

21st Dec 2012 said...

Once $ingapore has won sovereignty for Pedra Branca (that island with the lighthouse) over Malaysia. All the problems u state will be solve. Why? Because that island has oil!! And we will have natural resources and never be worried about poverty.

James Chia said...

Soon they will say inflation is for your good and they will tell us if there's no inflation then government would be worried.

Anonymous said...

I still believe that the rich and the poor gap is government policy application issue, because there are times when even those who are diligent natural workers can not get themself out of poverty.


J.C. Carvill
Email: support@cosmosing.com
URL: http://www.cosmosing.com/jeanclaudecarvill/index.php

Sun said...

I had always wonder where all the charity funds went to. What with so many charity activities that claimed 6-figures, that the GST had a gain of $million/billion yearly and uncollected winnings in $m/b from Singapore Pools that all claimed to be for the poor and needy.

AND these million/billions add together can't stop the raising poverty of Singaporeans?!?!? THe social worker and care giver sectors aren't well paid either.

By paying big bucks for 'foreign talents' to come 'boost' SIngapore economy, but with pay growing at snail pace for locals in majority occupations and expenses raising at japan bullet train speed, where does that left Singapore's own people? It seems like Singapore is driving her own people to a downward spiral. Or, putting up nice wall-paper but behind the wall.....

Many a times, I see people write in to newspaper or forum, all hoping to make a difference but were they taken into consideration? eg. the times when transport fare were to rise again. Some writers even did research and quoted examples like the HK MTR not rising their fare because it's public transport and therefore shall help unburden her people's expenses. But Singpapore? Went ahead and rise it several times, giving reasons that do not help in helping to lessen the locals' living expenses. The BIG JOKE is that MRT quoted that the frequency of train will be more....NOPE, in fact, it LESSEN!! It's like stepping on her own people.

Not that one should rely on govt to support on giving hands-out. U really think Singaporeans are so hard-up for hand-outs when it come to their financial status?

Has Singapore become so blinded with wanting to be first class world that she forgets about taking care of her own people?

Isn't there a saying that 'To prosper a country, one need to take care of her people well first'? Or something like that...

Marcus Dsouza said...

My name is Marcus Dsouza and I am from India and belong to a very very poor family, I am looking for someone who can financially help me for 20000 to 25000 US $, so that I can save my family from poority and needy, I am really looking someone who can save my family, we are struggling day and night sometimes we sleep without food too, if yanyone of you who can help us, God will help you too, so I beg you to please do help, I have borrowed loan too from the market, to do somewhat small business, but all in vain, and now the situation is that I am unable to repay the loan amount too, I need someone who can really and truly help me financial wise so that I can repay my loan and take good care of my family, I do not have any bad habbits, since last four (4) years I am struggling but all in vain, you can say it is my bad time or the stars are not in my favour I hardly earn 100 $, if you can help me I shall be highly grateful and thankful to you. and god be bless you and fulfill all your dreams you can email me at marcus69_ahd@rediffmail.com / marcus69_ahd@yahoo.com Looking forward towards your positive response from your side

Marcus Dsouza said...

My name is Marcus Dsouza and I am from India and belong to a very very poor family, I am looking for someone who can financially help me for 20000 to 25000 US $, so that I can save my family from poority and needy, I am really looking someone who can save my family, we are struggling day and night sometimes we sleep without food too, if yanyone of you who can help us, God will help you too, so I beg you to please do help, I have borrowed loan too from the market, to do somewhat small business, but all in vain, and now the situation is that I am unable to repay the loan amount too, I need someone who can really and truly help me financial wise so that I can repay my loan and take good care of my family, I do not have any bad habbits, since last four (4) years I am struggling but all in vain, you can say it is my bad time or the stars are not in my favour I hardly earn 100 $, if you can help me I shall be highly grateful and thankful to you. and god be bless you and fulfill all your dreams you can email me at marcus69_ahd@rediffmail.com / marcus69_ahd@yahoo.com Looking forward towards your positive response from your side