(Or “How S’pore’s PMs are chosen”)
We know that Tharman as finance minister has failed to control inflation (Yes, yes, I know latest number is 4% but remember grain prices are flying), when all he can do is to make jokes about it, and that the government (where he is now the senior most minister in charge of the economy) has consistently failed to raise the productivity of S’pore workers* despite talking the talking on this since I started working in the late 1970s. I’m now a man of leisure and the government is still talking about raising productivity. SIGH.
I was reminded of another failure of the government’s economic policies when the July export data came out last week. No it wasn’t the failure of the government policy to diversify away from electronics. If S’pore has a comparative edge here, so be it.
No, it was the failure many yrs ago to realise that pill-making is not a steady business. Example: in July, while pharmaceutical shipments were up 1.3% after rocketing 24% in June. It was brought in to smooth the volatility of an economy dependent on the export of electronics, a volatile commodity.
It didn’t work because while selling drugs is a steady business in gd times and bad (unlike electronics), making pills is not. It’s a very volatile business. Drug cos are forever tweaking their supply chains to minimise production costs and inventories. Production is not smooth.
So while pill-making has become an important driver of economic growth, it has not made the economy any less volatile. In fact combining it with the manufacturing and export of electronics causes the economy to gyrate wildly at times.
Guess who introduced pill-making? One Lee Hsien Loong. He was once responsible for raising the productivity of S’porean workers? In the UK, a Chancellor of the Exchequer, who goofed on two major policy decisions, would not get to be PM.
Looks like better not bet against Tharman being PM. With the failures on inflation, productivity and the following on his CV, nap that he will become PM:
— Another failure is the rise in the number for homeless S’poreans at a time of reasonably gd economic growth.
— They are exemplars of the “working poor”, something articulated so well here. Read it.
— Article also explains why Workfare, as it is constructed, doesn’t help the poor. Related posts: https://atans1.wordpress.com/2012/02/27/budget-a-plague-on-both-your-houses/
Update after posting: Promotion here is via failure? Presidency of S’pore and Temasek. So the PAP’s meritocracy is achieved via failure, not success? So Orwellian. Reminds me of Beckett’s, “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”