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.