Mar 29, 2008

How The Government Helps Singaporeans Cope With Inflation

ST March 29, 2008
SM signals a lid on govt fees for now
By Ravi Velloor

NEW DELHI - SINGAPORE may postpone increases in government charges as an inflation-taming measure.

Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong disclosed this yesterday in response to media queries on what steps the Government could take to alleviate the impact of rising prices.

He said: 'Government fees, although their going up is justified, may be restrained for a few months, postponing the increases to next year or so.

'Where it is within our control, we will try to do what we can.'

Mr Goh was speaking to the Singapore media at a press conference wrapping up a five-day visit to India.

Consumer price inflation in Singapore hit 6.5 per cent last month from a year ago. In particular, food prices have gone up sharply.
This is a little sad. The government's best idea for helping Singaporeans cope with inflation is - nothing, really.

That's right. The government's plan is just not to raise its own fees. It won't raise fees and it won't lower fees - it will leave the fees exactly as they currently are.

In other words, the government will do nothing.

Well, brilliant idea *clap, clap, clap, clap*. I wish someone would pay me a multi-million dollar salary for coming up with ideas that revolve around the concept of doing nothing.


Anonymous said...

That is how ridiculous the PAP govt has become. They are trying to instill a mindset of fee hikes every year. And when this is accepted as a norm naturally any freeze in hikes is deemed as "helping" the citizens.

Anonymous said...

Why should they be bothered when Singaporeans are conditioned by fear to keep them in power forever ? Unless and until Singaporeans wake up from this deeprooted fear which has been planted into their subconscious mind by LKY over the years, the pap government will continue to pay lipservice to the plight of Singaporeans. The only way Singaporeans can make the pap government more responsive to their suggestions and needs is to keep support for the pap on a knife edge. Only in such a situation can Singaporeans forced the pap to work for the benefits of Singaporeans and not for themselves and foreigners. Just look at how effective the last Malaysian election is in forcing the UMNO government to listen to the wishes of the people. Singaporeans should learn from episode.

Anonymous said...

One more thing to note. He only say 'MAY' and not 'WILL'. So the price might still go up and he is not wrong After all, he did not say confirm will, just may do so.

Anonymous said...

And please note - this does not include privatised hospital fees like SGH, university fees, poly fees, ERP fees etc - all these fees does not come under the ambit of our govt - sometimes I too wonder what the ministers are doing with the million dollar pay - when they cannot cap or control these prices and let them rise time and again.

Anonymous said...

Thank Mr Wang for telling us this trend.

Yap, all the rubbish that government talk of helping to cope with inflation and helping the poor is to do nothing at all.

You see, to help inflation, they suspend price hike of government administrative charge which are actually needless in the first place to feed the fat inept ministers and ministries. Why need so much inefficiencies and ineffectiveness in the government and why is the citizens have to pay for such nonsense ?

Secondly, to help the poor, the government build more facilities but charge more and increase more price hike, and therefore the unnecessary price hike or money by citizen should not be spent on these image. Where is the profit generated by Singtel, GLC, Temasek which are supported to return the profit to the public for nation building ? Nope, it endup in LKY's coffers and families' pocket. This is corruption of the highest order because it is LEEGALISED by the coffers.

Anonymous said...

They can politically afford to say and do such things. No political backlash at all. Just make sure there is very weak or no opposition.
Few governments in the world have this luxury. Uniquely Singapore and will be so for many more years.

Anonymous said...

Even though the Govt says it will do nothing, the fact is that GST will be based on a higher quantum and thus
the Govt will also be having a higher GST collection ie consumers will pay more.

Anonymous said...

I am thankful that they are doing nothing.

When they do something, it usually results in a situation where the common folk is worse off in the longer run.

Eg. When there is Congestion on the roads, solution is to Increase ERP so that motorists can enjoy the full benefits of paying ERP.

Eg. Rebates are used as a sweetener for increasing charges.

So be thankful that they are doing nothing.

Anonymous said...

Why is it that there is a need to have hikes in govt charges, when the govt coffins are overflowing with more than $6 billion surplus... Why? for Temasek to invest overseas?

To add to Anon 10:43 PM, these "govt charges" do not include polyclinic consultation charges (they are under statutory boards) and public transportation fares too! They hit the poor the most.

The Minister of finance also provided not increases in govt charges after the implementation of GST in 2007, but we hve more than 7% inflation in health care and transporation.


Alan Wong said...

When the Gahmen increased the GST from 5% to 7%, it had a snowball effect on many food prices.

Slowly one would realised that your favourite wanton mee or favourite desert now costs S$2.50 per bowl instead of S$2 prevously, an increase of 25%. Or one piece of fried dough stick or youtiao now cost 60 cts instead of 50 cts per piece previously, a 20% increase.

It was a very bad mistake, ie. increasing the GST at the wrong time when the actual situation did not really warrant it, as witnessed by our huge surplus. And yet our Gahmen.

Similarly the same with means testing. Normally such austere moves are taken as a last resort only when the Gahmen is really short of hard cash.

You just don't go around to increase your ministers salaries by millions and at the same time you tell the Singaporeans to pay more GST to help the poor. And neither do you go and tell the poor Singaporean to go for means testing at a time when the whole Gahmen is enjoying a huge surplus.

It seems that we really need a tsunami at the next Singapore elections to wake up our blur-like-sotong PM and his cabinet ministers from their slumber.

Elfred said...

Things are so expensive nowadays that the only thing that is cheap is the money... Hahahahahaha...

Elfred comes, sent rgds, and ciao~

Onlooker said...

Be thankful that they do not increase their salary again....
Doing nothing is their forte.
hardly justify less year pay hike.

Mercia said...

What's actually interesting is how the government perceives that as helping. We'd have to see if this is the full extent of how they intend to help Singaporeans.

Anonymous said...

My brother is a heart attack survivor. I understand from him that in order to use his medisave for outpatient charges, he has to pay a processing fee to CPF board. I agree with him that CPF, instead of helping people, is really imposing taxes on people. Unbelievable but true?

Anonymous said...

Minister of State for Trade and Industry S Iswaran:
"The main thing for us is to just carry on with life as normal"


Anonymous said...

why every time must increase increase not decrease, our pay decrease decrease,look at msia, petrol stagnant at $1.10/lit for 8 years,after that increase to 1.90 and stay there.Goh chok tong can talk only, can not help the ppl. what is the use of electing him,shit!!!

Anonymous said...

Tak boleh Tahan

Percevale said...

Guys, resistance is futile. LKY already said that if the opposition won the elections, it'll be a freak result and he'd call the military in. Even if we somehow wake up from our fear and apathy, we'd still be screwed AND under a military dictatorship.

Anonymous said...

When they do not increase fees this year you can bet that next year the increase will be double. If they can say that GST increase is to help the poor, what can you expect from our Government. If Singaporeans don't wake up soon enough, I think it will be 'more bad years'

Anonymous said...

Mr Wang, needed to ask your opinion on this. Sing Power is upping electricity rates, because oil pruces has gone up. Acceptable reason.

But Mr Wang, did they not buy hedges? Futures?

Did SGD not increase in value (appreciate) against the USD for which the oil are priced in? Shouldn't that make oil relatively cheaper to buy in USD?

Anonymous said...

Sinkies will continue to vote for the money crazy gahment...

Anonymous said...

SM Goh Chok Tong is famous for dishing out soothing words. BUT did nothing to heal ailing hearts ever since he entered politics!


Anonymous said...

This is all probably the US's fault, somehow. Bush's fault. Because they have so many guns over in the US. It's time for the nation-building press to have a full page story on some kind of US shooting to remind Singaporeans how much better our lives are than in the US.

Robert L said...

Dear Mr Wang

Thank you for this article.

The govt is not increasing it's fees? Ha! Ha! Think again.

The govt is increasing it's collection even without increasing it's fees - the secret is in the 7% gst. With the gst, the govt rides piggyback on everybody else who increases their fees. So if whatever company or country sells you such and such product and increases their price, the govt thereby increases it's collection - that means you pay more to govt even when the govt does not increase it's fees.

One horrendously mind-boggling example is the petrol price. When international oil prices increased to such alarming levels, the govt tax had quietly rode piggyback and Singapore petrol prices became bloated far, far more seriously than the rest of the world - because the local population here are paying much, much more than the price increase faced by the rest of the world. Like, for instance, if another country pays $1 more for petrol, in Singapore you may be paying $2 more, $1 for the petrol and $1 for the tax. So do you wonder why the inflation figures in Singapore and the transport costs have spiraled upwards? Do you wonder if Singapore's competitiveness is damaged?

Anonymous said...

Is there a disconnet within the cabinet? Today's newspaper announcement of rise in medishield premiums is horrifying, coming from our best Health Minister, and after SM Goh announcement of price cap. Of course our premium per month or per day is low, but on an annual basis, did you figure how high it goes? And is this compulsory for all CPF holders? Or can we opt out?

Johnny Lau said...

This is all true what you people have commented. Or Government has distant itself so far from the people who put them in power. People like LKY and his sons are living in their own isolated palaces and dont know what is hurting the people.


Anonymous said...

It's about time our dear Singaporeans gets a wakeup call, voice up! stop deceiving yourself and stop living in fear of the PAP government. I think the ministers should get a pay cut and why is there so many ministers to govern such a small country, it looks so ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

Dear "Mr Wang"

I really enjoy your posts.
They can even be quite "sociological". :)

Phua Kai Lit, PhD

P.S. I'm a Malaysian sociologist, by the way.

Anonymous said...

Why on earth for Singapore PM and MM could make sure remarks on Mas Selamat jail escape, simply don't make sense.

MM said: '‘The escape is undoubtedly a setback, and it should never have happened. it’s the dangers of complacency, of thinking that everything is all right, .....then PM said this below: ‘I mean, we are different. This was a lapse, what to do, it’s happened.’

Both speeches are rather mind bogging and puzzling - why do we have double standards leaders govern our country? Something we Singaporeans might want to ponder deeply before the next general election.