Saturday, February 23, 2008

Lucky to be a citizen of an affluent island....

Sad to say I've been sent overseas again. When I got home I couldn't wait to get my hands on the all the copies of Straits Times that I missed while I was away. Yes, "budget to help the poor" again. ....amazing performance by our govt they told us they had to increase GST to offset the loss from corporate tax cuts and ended up with a fiscal surplus of S$5.4B (instead of projected deficit) last year. Wow!
These days when you tell people you're from Singapore, they give you that look - "oh you rich bloke...". I think it has something to do with our govt pumping billions into troubled western banks - that piece of news made its way around the world and everyone knows that Singapore is rich. If you want to bargain, don't let people know you're from Singapore otherwise you end up paying double.

Remember that last year's budget was also intended to help the poor. This year more has to be done as the income gap has widened and inflation escalates. It is strange but true, as our GDP grows, the number of poor people increases so does the income gap. Last year the govt felt compelled to reduce corporate tax despite corporate profits being at a record high as a % of GDP and increase the GST to offset that cut. This year there will be topups for the old and poor - but can these topups catch up with the rising cost of living? Electricity, transport, medical care, govt fees and public housing all rising at an accelerated pace and all these under the control of the PAP govt. So the PAP have these price hikes to take place in 2007, then craft a budget for 2008 to "help the poor" who cannot keep up with inflation. I'm sure there will be more such price hikes in 2008 and when we get to 2009, the govt will need to do even more to help the poor. Last year's price hikes have already eaten this year's budget topups for the poor. In other countries, govt gives the poor special rates for utilities, transport etc and keep these rates low to make sure the poor can afford it, in Singapore these are hiked every year and the govt then help the poor with topups later to cope with last year's price hikes. Its the same every year, HDB grants that does not catch up with rising prices of HDB flats, topups for the poor that does not catch up with the price hikes initiated by the govt itself........helping the poor is a mantra uttered by the govt on every Budget Day but the reality is the poor cannot afford a govt as capable and brilliant as the PAP. The PAP is far better than what the poor deserves. The poor people in Singapore (which comprises close to 30% of the population) should be thankful that they have such excellent leadership. They should be thankful for the ever increasing challenges they face in the PAP economy without which their work ethics would be undermined.
We are all lucky citizens of an affluent little island. As our govt invests tens of billions in troubled banks, the poor folks in Singapore can learn to live with less every year. If we attract enough rich Indonesia PRs and expand our population we can perhaps dilute away our poor.


21st dec 2012 said...

"The poor people in Singapore (which comprises close to 30% of the population)...".
Where do u get this figure from? What about rich and middle income?

LuckySingaporean said...

21st Dec 2012,

I got the 30% from an article I read. I'll try to locate it. Some time back it was 19% but rose gradually to 26% in 2003 and as the income gap GINI rose to a record high of 0.48, it became higher. You can find the 26% below poverty line figure here:

LuckySingaporean said...

21st Dec 2012,

There is an article by Alex Au to show the actual income gap and poverty.

The bottom 30% saw a rapid decline in household income as the GDP grew:

Anonymous said...

Found this document from Singapore Department of Statistics based on a national survey in 2002/2003 - apparently the most up-to-date information available.

On page 8 and 9 the following is found:

Average monthly of household:
lowest 20% of population : expenditure $1,259, income $795
next 20% (the 2nd quintile) of population : expenditure $2100, income $2059.

This seems to show that in fact 40% of the population are in debt in 2003. Previous surveyed years were not any better for this group. Things might have improve since 2003 but I doubt much.

Apparently Lucky has done his homework.

LuckySingaporean said...

About 18-20% of working adults make less than $1000 per month....and this % increased in the past few years.

The countries like Taiwan, S.Korea, and Japan have GINI index in the range of 20-30, this is similar to the Europeans.

In Singapore our GINI is 0.48 we are on par with 3rd world countries when it comes to income gap

Anonymous said...

so we know the facts. now, show us the money?

more subsidies/hangouts are not the solution. a complete overhaul of the education and our values system is the answer? or a new framing and narratives?

"He who CRUSHES the poor to MULTIPLY for himself, and he who GIVES to the RICH, only to COME TO POVERTY Do not rob the poor, BECAUSE he is poor; nor press down the afflicted in the gate; for Jehovah will plead their cause, and STRIP the soul of those who PLUNDER them."

Anonymous said...

>>Electricity, transport, medical care, govt fees and public housing all rising at an accelerated pace ...

Talking about healthcare, Mr Khaw the Health Minister complained that there is too much demand for C-class by our people hence too much govt subsidy.

Really? Then why make some patients stay longer than require?

A relative recently fell down and fractured her leg. She was hospitalised in C-class in a restructured govt hospital for over a week with nothing done for her ... waiting, waiting in suffering for a particular surgeon who was abroad on holiday to return and operate on her.

Her estimated bill for that period of waiting already came up to near $4000 -- after factoring in the govt subsidy, mind you.

She was so worried about the final cost.

If MOH is concerned about the govt subsidizing too much, that restructured govt hospital obviously doesn't care. Why should it when it is charging commercial rate and the so-called govt subsidy is really taxpayers' money helping the that govt hospital run as a commercial one.

So MOH should not tell us that too many people are asking for C-class. Mr Khaw, please check out how your restructured hospitals actually operate.

Stop blaming the people on such matters. Nobody likes to be hospitalised if only for the fear of hospital and the expenses involved.