atans1

Buying votes? Or social justice redistribution?

In Political governance on 02/07/2014 at 4:47 am

A recent announcement reminded me that National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan on Monday (June 2) warned against turning elections into an auction between political parties promising voters as much “goodies” as they can, with as low taxes as possible*.

PAP not into vote buying: perish the tot, he was saying.

So how come this announcement?

In the first week of July, about 1.6 million Singaporeans will receive letters informing them of their 2014 GST Voucher (GSTV), as well as other Budget 2014 benefits** such as the 2014 GSTV Special Payments, the 5-Year Medisave top-up, as well as the Service and Conservancy Charges (S&CC) rebates, the Ministry of Finance (MOF) said in a press release on Monday (June 30).

Most Singaporeans will automatically receive their GSTV payouts and 5-Year Medisave top-ups, the MOF said. Those who have not signed up for past Government payouts and/or are not CPF members will receive letters informing them of the actions they need to take by Dec 31 to receive their benefits. (CNA)

And this is only the latest in a string of spending our money on ourselves to make life more comfortable:

The Government … (June 5) accepted the MediShield Life Review Committee’s recommendation that it should bear most of the costs of the scheme, details of which were released the same day.

“The Government accepts the committee’s recommendation and will bear most of the cost of bringing in those with pre-existing conditions. In this way, the Government will help all Singaporeans, including those with pre-existing conditions and those who are currently excluded, achieve MediShield Life cover, while ensuring that premiums are kept affordable for policyholders,” the Ministry of Health …

Said Committee chairman Bobby Chin: “We have listened to what Singaporeans valued most in MediShield Life. Our recommendations will provide better protection against large hospital bills for all Singaporeans, for life.”

He added that the committee will finalise its recommendations in a month, with the scheme slated to be implemented by the end of 2015.

The government will commit nearly $4 billion in financial support over five years to the revamped national health insurance scheme that will offer lifelong coverage and better protection.

— The recent Pioneer Generation package.catering to those born in 1949 or earlier, and who became a Citizen before 1987, will cost the Government S$9 billion.The Government will establish an S$8 billion Pioneer Generation Fund to meet the cost of the package over time.

— Then there is an ongoing public tpt revamp which now includes baskers and themed cabins. It started off several yrs ago with a $1.1bn (spread over 5 yrs I think) subsidy for buses, and will result in routes being contracted out to operators.

— Temasek yestewrday pledged an additional endowment of $60 million over the next five years to Temasek Cares, a non-profit philanthropic organisation founded in June 2009 to help needy and disadvantaged Singaporeans.

But let’s be fair, a site that the PAP says is not related to it (Of course, site founder was unemployed, not a very PAP thing) , reposted this from a site that seems pro-PAP (or at least anti-oppo):

On the one hand cry election is coming, that’s pork barrel politics, on the other hand, shouted gahmen not doing enough to help the poor, why 4-roomer get less.

GST Voucher is a redistribution system from the rich, and from foreigners who pay GST, towards the poor and middle income group in Singapore.

Fair point.

What do you think? Vote buying or social justice redistribution at work? Just remember, it’s yr money.

Whatever lah; spending other people’s money can do a lot for a politician. Think Thaksin. He introduced a simple idea to Thai politics that had been ignored by his rivals: find out what people want, and give it to them. Ever since he has been unbeaten at the polls. The national discussion of economic policy, including that led by the current junta, has concentrated on the idea of reducing the cost of household expenditures.

Taz the reality. So much for the theory that there is a need for competing political visions of different kinds that encompass not only what is best for the nation but also the economic and social needs of the population. Juz ask WP. It’s “vision” is “PAP is OK with us as co-driver”. No wonder PAP are annoyed.

When elections become a contest of competing political visions, pigs will fly. Money always talks.

——

*“In all honesty, we must acknowledge most of our people would always want more, but would never want to pay more in taxes, and it’s incumbent upon our part to be honest with our voters, because if every election is a mere auction between political parties to give as much goodies as they can with as little taxes they need to pay, I think democracy of that manner must lead to insolvency and eventually, political cynicism.”

Mr Khaw added there is no shortage of money to finance the development of infrastructure – the problem is a lack of sustainable good ideas which will benefit all sectors in a country. He said, as long as projects are bankable, there will be no shortage of funding. However, it is inevitable that governments may need to help finance some projects in order to help the poorer segments of the population.

**The benefits are as follows:

GSTV – CASH AND GSTV – CASH: SENIORS’ BONUS
About 1.3 million Singaporeans will receive the GSTV – Cash on Aug 1. Of this group, about 660,000 Singaporeans aged 55 and above will also receive the GSTV – Cash: Seniors’ Bonus, which will see them receiving double the GSTV – Cash amount in 2014. The GSTV – Cash and GSTV – Cash: Seniors’ Bonus will cost the Government S$505 million, the MOF said.

GSTV – MEDISAVE
About 380,000 Singaporeans aged 65 and above will also receive the GSTV – Medisave top-up on Aug 1, at a cost to the Government of S$115 million.

GSTV – U-SAVE AND GSTV – U-SAVE SPECIAL PAYMENT
The regular GST Voucher – U-Save will be given out quarterly, the MOF said. In addition, a Special Payment will be given out in July 2014 and January 2015. These vouchers will offset utilities directly and cost the Government S$290 million in total. In July, 800,000 households will receive S$90 to S$195 each in rebates, depending on the type of flat they stay in.

ADDITIONAL MEDISAVE TOP-UPS UNDER 5-YEAR MEDISAVE TOP-UP SCHEME
As announced in Budget 2014, Singaporeans born on or before Dec 31, 1959 – in other words, those aged 55 and above in 2014 – and who do not enjoy Pioneer Generation benefits will receive Medisave top-ups of S$100 or S$200 annually over the next five years, the ministry said. About 530,000 Singaporeans will benefit at a cost to the Government of S$100 million. Those who stay in homes of Annual Value above S$13,000 or who own more than one property will receive S$100 a year. “The vast majority – those living in HDB flats who do not own more than one property – will get the higher top-up of S$200 a year,” the MOF announced.

 

 

 

 

 

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  2. I don’t see the PAP government’s topping up our Medisave account, initiating the Pioneer General Package, providing transitional subsidies for the proposed Medishield Life insurance and permanent subsidies to the lower and middle income households, etc. as a means of buying our vote.

    These benefits are targeted at the general population at large and with little or no strings attached to whether people would vote for them. Rather they are to help address, to some extent, real social concerns and needs, eg. health care costs. Take the Medishield Life scheme, while there is a section of the Sporeans who cry foul of it, I dare say that the majority of us see merits in it (I welcome it even don’t I already have comprehensive hospitalization coverage where I don’t need to pay a cent if I should stay in a A-class restructured hospital and I am not of the pioneer generaation).

    To me vote buying would be like a direct enticement to usually a segment of or the general population where it says if you vote for us, you will get this or that and if you don’t you don’t get it. If you had cited the estate upgrading scheme used by PAP for several elections, I might agree with you that this is a grey area but not in the above cases. Over time the estate upgrading methods lost its use and appeal as more people clamoured for better opposition representation in the Parliament; and I think the PAP learned this and is easing away from it.

    However, what Thaksin and his sister, Yingluck, did are to my mind vote buying. For example, they said if you voted for us, we would pay you above-market price for your rice production. This was given only to rice farmers who were known to live in north-east Thailand, their stronghold and by way of its population size and I can’t remember one or two factors would guarantee that they won the elections. Surely Yingluck knew that this above-market rice benefit could not be financially sustainable and would in effect have dire consequences on the nation’s coffers, she still used it because she knew she would get the votes she wanted. And that was what mattered to her, in proxy for her brother. To me, their action was unconscionable even though it benefited many farmers – the farmers were mere political pawns of the Thaksins.

    • Fair point. Only fair because although available to all, not all will benefit. Example: The rich won’t bother about increased healthcare spending.

  3. Sorry, I meant to say that even though I already have comprehensive insurance n not that I don’t. Thks.

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