A few days ago, a report entitled "$1.1B narrows income gap" appeared in the Straits Time to explain the 'progress' made in narrowing the income gap.
A ministrial committee released a 60-page progress report which found that these workers 'have come a long way' since 2006. When you don't have clearly stated goals, you can always define success as whatever you have achieved. Yes, the PAP govt has succeeded again:
One, wages have risen from $1,200 a month to $1,310 in 2008 for the bottom 20 per cent of full-time resident workers. It is very strange that nobody in govt knows what inflation is and nobody seems to know what real wages are. Are the workers better off because they now make $1,310? The inflation rate for the bottom 20% of workers was 9.5 over 2 years ,2007-2008. Over the 3 years, the CPI has gone up more than 10%[Link]. These low wage workers have to make at least $1320 in 2008 just to stay where they were economically in 2006. When the govt adjusts our CPF minimum sum upwards, they use inflation as a reason but when it comes to the wages of low income workers, they leave out inflation to show us they are doing a good job!
The pool of residents earning $1,200 or less a month has shrunk from 360,000 to fewer than 300,000. How can $1200 be used as the reference point? Again they did not adjust for inflation.
The GINI index fell from 0.489 in 2007 to 0.481 in 2008 for the 1st time in a decade. They have to go to the 3rd decimal place to find some improvement in the GINI and even though it improved slightly it is still the GINI co-efficient of a 3rd world country. Countries like Japan, Taiwan and S.Korea have GINI of around 0.3. One reason for the fall in the GINI could be the drop in income of wealthy individuals rather than the poor becoming getting richer. Recall in 2008, we had a financial crisis that caused sources of income of the rich such as rentals, dividends and bonuses of top executives to fall temporarily.
If you read the report carefully, you will realise that while the PAP govt talks a lot about helping the poor and expresses concern for the poor, they do not match their words with actions. $1.1B is less than the amount of money Temasek lost in a single investment (Barclays). This problem has gone on for more than a decade and has worsened in recent years as the PAP opened the floodgates to cheap foreign labor. Now they spin the numbers to tell us that things have improved - where is the sincerity? But still we shouldn't too surprise as we voted for a govt whose first act was to adjust its own record breaking salary upwards - the interests of ordinary Singapore appears to be secondary for this govt...