Saturday, January 20, 2007

The Big Picture aka Helicopter View?

Wrap up the past month's happenings and perhaps we might get a glimpse toward real governmental policy.

1. Janadas Devan, in an editorial, waxes lyrical about how high wages for top positions should be kept in the public sector, for fear that Singapore will lose top talents. A cursory note on sacrifice is made but the true meaning of the word is played down to look dumb where anything below 100k a year is a major earth shaking sacrifice.

Relative to the GHSS survey conducted in 2005/6 where the average household income is somewhere around 30k per year this rankles somewhat.

2. CPF hikes to benefit workers brought to the fore but quickly dampened by business sentiments who threatened a lower wage rise to account for the bandied 1.5% increase in CPF contributions.

Are Singapore wage levels so sensitive that a 1.5% hike is something to cry about when our workers' have been made to carry the brunt of the past economic swings to the tune of 4% of their total potential home ownership funds?

I clearly recall that a massive 'education' effort was undertaken and sustained for some 3 to 4 months to 'educate' us workers' on why a CPF reduction is necessary. Perhaps a similar blitz using the same government coffers could be utilised to now educate businesses.

Or are economic growth 'indicators' read and reported falsely and businesses are still reeling?

3. GST increase justified by Khaw with full TV coverage and the press then further substantiated by Hri Kumar in the online world. Some logic issues here but perhaps the illogic of some of their arguments only appeals to me.

So we ask the poor to pay more to help the poor? And any incidental increase is offset by the rich spending more thus being taxed more? Do the rich really spend more in Singapore or do they spend more overseas? Perhaps we should take a look at where 'rich disposable income' really ends up - locally or on foreign shores. I know for sure that if I am rich my spending is likely to be overseas -- witness the foreign take up levels of the recent sky shatteringingly priced condos in Marina Bay, witness the foreign influx for medical tourism -- why should the rich in Singapore be any different?

Then again, perhaps my thinking is flawed and those who are rich will spend MOST of their disposable income in Singapore so as to be taxed at a higher rate to supplement governmental policy which is bordering on the socialist and welfarist in act thought not in name.


4. Corporate taxes to drop 1 percent. Linked to point 2 above.

The fact that MM came out to make this statement, on foreign soil when this statement was made, added perceived 'weight' to the statement (i.e. to become policy for sure, money back guarantee). Why was not a similar 'weighting' provided for the CPF hikes? Perhaps MM has earned enough to date to not be bothered about how a fundamental asset enriching function of the local economy works in favour of the majority of Singaporeans (since some 85% to 90% of us live and 'own' our HDB flats)?



Summary:

High wages in civil (public) sevice justified.

CPF increase of 1.5% decried by business with planned retaliatory measures. (so what is NTUC doing?)

GST increase of 2% justified through TV, press and in the online world (basically virtually all methods of communications available at the immediate behest of those who are trying to justify it, never mind the method).

Corporate taxation to decrease 1%.

From a layman's net tax perspective someone is getting shortchanged. Higher high level wages to the tune of tens of millions of dollars a year, higher general consumption taxes which are supposed to offset higher social/welfare handouts, a sustained reduction in CPF contributions and a decrease in corporate taxation.

With the Singapore government famously running on surpluses year after year (almost - a net surplus through the years always occurs just prior to the next election) it makes me wonder who is paying for all those expenses?

With my income tax payment advice comes this statement: Thank you for your contribution to nation building.

I'm keen to find out what exactly is it I'm building. Of course I'm unable to since the figures are not readily available despite the best intentions of Ngiam Tong Dow who stated that anyone who is able to will be able to get the right numbers. And or course this 'article' will be shot down due to the lack of firm numbers.

So perhaps to dispel 'articles' such as this, perhaps some real numbers should be released.

And none of that HDB hogwash please where the latest response to a query on real numbers in relation to costing is met with a statement such as: market value minus selling price = subsidy. Come on, we all know that's 'market subsidy' spun in another way, basically the same BS that has been going on since the question was first brought up some 25 years ago.

Let's see a balance sheet, let's see some transparency.

I ask you to remember the old NKF and how the strength of one individual was able to pull the wool over the eyes of so many. Eh, its no longer subjudice since Durai has admitted to the crimes, only the sentencing and hearing on further charges remain. What's with this sub-judice BS anyway? Its not like we have a trial by jury system where the jury can be affected by public sentiment. For goodness sake! This is Singapore. There is no public opinion to speak of.

3 comments:

Matt said...

Read somewhere you are looking for this video
Personally speaking, it's not really offensive - just watch Borat.

Pearly said...

Hello!

My name is Pearly, and I represent a group of final-year students from Nanyang Technological University, Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information. For our final year project, we are conducting an academic study of online practices and political perceptions of Singaporeans and would like to invite you to take part in this project.

Your participation in this study is voluntary and you may withdraw from the questionnaire at any point. However, your participation is very important and we hope you will complete the questionnaire. We also hope you can help us publicise this and get your friends to participate as well.

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The online questionnaire will take no more than 20 minutes to complete. Please click on the link below to start the online questionnaire:
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Regards,
Pearly

Perry Tong said...

Thanks Matt for the link to the RK House video. I've watched Borat when it was first screened in the US. I understand and enjoy satire to its fullest, I hope.