atans1

Minister, you thinking of yr govt?

In India, Political governance on 16/07/2013 at 5:13 am

I laughed when I read the following:

Law and Foreign Affairs Minister K Shanmugam said one of the biggest risks for Singapore is a populist government that spends increasing amounts of money to succeed.

Already, he noted, there are other challenges facing the nation, such as an ageing population, a shrinking workforce and rising healthcare costs.

Mr Shanmugam said: “There’s always something else on which money can be spent. But every time the government agrees and puts down a programme, you must remember it’s hard-coded, very difficult to take it back.

“Whenever we put down a programme today to spend money, I think the biggest risk for Singapore is a populist government that decides that the way to succeed is to spend more and more money. Every programme that you put down money (for), today, would just mushroom in 10, 15 years.

“So the impact will not be seen in the next five years. Next 10 years will be okay, but after that, how are we going to afford it? How sustainable is it going to be?”

Mr Shanmugam was speaking at the National University of Singapore U@live forum on [12th June 2013]. (CNA)

Recently,

— the govt has junior civil servants more money (Singapore’s 80,000 civil servants will get a mid-year Annual Variable Component of 0.4-month. In addition, Division IV officers will receive a wage increase of $70 per month and Division III officers a pay rise of $40 per month.)

— NTUC is pushing for cleaning companies to give each of their workers $60 a month more.

National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan said the government has taken steps to help low-income tenants of rental flats who see their pay rises eaten up by a rental increase.

Two million adult Singaporeans received letters from the government in the first week of July, informing them of the benefits they and their households will receive as part of Budget 2013.

And what about these?

— In 2011 or 2012, the govt funded a rise in the salaries of doctors, and I think, other health professions in public service. There were assurances that the fees we pay to use SingHealth services would not be raised.

— CPF interest rates are maintained despite the yields on 10-yr govt bonds collapsing.

— The injection of $1.1bn into the public transport system, a system which the former transport minister tot was perfect. Remember, he threatened a GST increase because he said commuters were asking for too much comfort.

— The accelerated HDB building programme despite constant govt grumbles that it loses money. A previous HDB minister even implied that by building more HDB flats, S’pore was raiding its reserves. Yes, yes he actually didn’t say this but I didn’t say he said this. I’m putting a reasonable spin on what he said.

So one could reasonably argue that this govt is doing the very thing it decries. It spends increasing amounts of money to succeed or to make sure it’s share of the popular vote doesn’t fall further in the next GE. A few years ago, when LKY was still in the cabinet, and believed to have a veto over cabinet decisions, I had lunch with some economists. One of them wondered if LKY would die if the govt spends one more cent of our money to make life a bit more comfortable for S’poreans. Wonder how LKY feels about all the above spending? Would he think it is “populism” at work?

The continuing good news for “P” (for “political”) netizens, and the opposition is that so long as VivianB is in the cabinet, the PAP will have very serious problems being perceived as a populist, compassionate party, no matter how much of our money the govt throws at us. It also undercuts the gd work that Kee Chui is doing. When social welfare workers praise him, he must be doing something gd. Or at least “populist’.

  1. Law and Foreign Affairs Minister K Shanmugam is just talking cock to spend the money we pay him.

  2. […] – Thoughts of a Cynical Investor: Minister, you thinking of yr govt? […]

  3. In a way he is right. The ever increasing spending is for their own. But for the people, it comes in dribs and drabs and of a one-off nature – seldom a programme. If it is a programme to benefit the people, the increase will be miserly and one in donkey years. Just recall the famous words of Ms Vivian – how much do you want? You want 3 meals in a hawker centre, food court or restaurant. Come to think of it, go clean the hawker centre.

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