Last month when asked about the current drought in the United States Midwest which is affecting corn and soybean crops, Mr Lee Yi Shyan, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry and National Development and chairman of Retail Prices Working Group said it is not likely to have an impact here in the near term.
This is because Singapore imports a negligible amount corn, and only seven per cent of its soy beans from the US.
But a sustained price hike for the grains, which are used for animal feed, he said, may raise commodity prices in the long term. (More)
Funny then that on 30 August BBC Online reported
Global food prices have leapt by 10% in the month of July, raising fears of soaring prices …
The bank said that a US heatwave and drought in parts of Eastern Europe were partly to blame for the rising costs.
The price of key grains such as corn, wheat and soybean saw the most dramatic increases, described by the World Bank president as “historic”. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-19431890
So the issue is not even that only in the long term food prices here will rise, but how soon. That it will rise in “the near term”, despite his denial, is a probability. Even before the spoke juz before National Day, prices had alread risen. I mean as a MTI minister, surely he would have access to that information, unless his officials hid data from him to make him look stupid?
Discounting that possibility or the possibility that MTI does not have access to near-live data (highly unlikely), either this jnr minister doesn’t know economics (maybe taz why he did not get promoted to minister?*) or he was juz mindlessly spinning knowing that the constructive, nation-building media would not challenge him, and that people would believe him.
Methinks one test of whether the government is sincere about having a national conversation is for ministers to stop assuming that the people are simple-minded to believe whatever ministers say. Those days are over. S’poreans have the internet and social media to keep tabs on waz happening in the rest of the world and in S’pore. The days when the constructive, nation-building local media filtered everything are over.
*Unlikely given Tharman’s and Hng Kiang’s grasp of basic economic theory