Lowest Govt spending in the world?

We refer to the articles “Telco fines channelled to help more poor households get broadband, computers” (Straits Times, Sep 28) and “PAP Community Foundation moving into eldercare, but ‘still opening’ pre-school centres” (Straits Times, Sep 29).

New schemes everyday?

Almost every other day, if not everyday, we have stories in the media about new piecemeal schemes to help lower-income Singaporeans.

8,000 households get internet?

The former article states that “Some 8,000 households will be getting a 100Mbps home fibre broadband plan and a tablet for $6 a month under a new assistance scheme.

The programme, which is called Home Access, will draw from a new $10 million Digital Inclusion Fund made up of telco fines, first announced in April.

It will help the 8,000 households here with no school-going children and a gross monthly income not exceeding $1,900 join the information highway over the next four years.”

How many poor families?

– For poor families who may be struggling to make ends meet on a daily basis – the $6 a month may not be affordable. They may just continue to walk to the nearest library to get 1 hour of free internet access everyday, if they are age 55 and above.

Bottom 20% households spend more than what they earn?

In this connection, according to the Household Expenditure Survey 2012/2013 report – the lowest 20% households average monthly household expenditure at $2,231 is higher than the average income of $2,022.

Does this mean that they were spending about 10% ($2,231 divided $2,022) more than what they earned?

Disposable income even worse at more than 10%?

Moreover, as income is including employer CPF contribution, and regular government transfers such as Workfare Income Supplement, the bulk of which is not in cash, and accounted for 9.3% of total incomes – the gap between income and expenditure may be even greater from a disposable income perspective.

800,000 people struggling to make ends meet?

As the bottom 20% is 214,628 households – we may be looking at about 800,000 household members who may be struggling to make ends meet.

Why take so long to help?

As to “There is no scheme that addresses the technology needs of this group at present.”

– Why did it take so long to help this group?

Did we have to wait until there were enough Telco fines to help such Singaporeans?

Lowest government spending in the world?

In this connection, according to the Economist (Sep 27) – “(in) Denmark, government spending runs to nearly 60% of GDP. More diverse America allocates just 39% of GDP to government, in polyglot Singapore the figure is just 14%”.

So, why is our government spending on the people, apparently the lowest in the developing and developed countries?

Pay the most, get the least?

From a cashflow perspective, we arguably pay the highest taxes in the world (taxes, indirect taxes, highest CPF contribution in the world (akin to social security and insurance taxes in other countries), implicit tax by paying the lowest real pension returns in the world, and receive relatively the lowest social benefits. On top of this, from a cashflow perspective, we are not spending a single cent on CPF, HDB or healthcare.

Keep accumulating huge surpluses?

Why do we not spend more to help particularly the lower-income by accumulating less surpluses which arguably were much derived originally, and still currently from our CPF? – Our Budget surplus in FY2012 using IMF fiscal reporting guidelines was $36.1 billion against the Budget surplus of $3.9 billion.

S Y Lee and Leong Sze Hian

P.S. Come with your family and friends to the 5th Return Our CPF protest on 25 October 4 pm at Speakers’ Corner https://www.facebook.com/events/446619505476438/


About the Author

Leong Sze Hian has served as the president of 4 professional bodies, honorary consul of 2 countries, an alumnus of Harvard University, authored 4 books, quoted over 1500 times in the media , has been a radio talkshow host, a newspaper daily columnist, Wharton Fellow, SEACeM Fellow, columnist for theonlinecitizen and Malaysiakini, executive producer of Ilo Ilo (40 international awards), Hotel Mumbai (associate producer), invited to speak more than 200 times in about 40 countries, CIFA advisory board member, founding advisor to the Financial Planning Associations of 2 countries. He has 3 Masters, 2 Bachelors degrees and 13 professional  qualifications.