In his dialogue with the Marine Parade GRC constituents Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong could not miss the 100-strong audience was so bored many were preoccupied by whispering among themselves or composing sms messages.
Confirming their unspoken thoughts, Goh said there was a lack of interest about the 2010 Budget because there were "hardly any goodies" for the sandwiched middle income groups. Instead they were asked to be excited about the productivity growth programmes, their so-called solution to the debacle of the foreign worker policy which caused Singaporeans to be robbed of housing, schooling and workplace opportunities. No effort has been made or suggested to ameliorate the ills of occupation by the foreign crowd, currently making up one third of the population. The token increase in foreign worker levy may discourage some employers from phasing out our countrymen from the workforce for a few dollars' savings, but the damage to the human landscape has yet to be addressed or remedied.
Actually, it's not true that there are no goodies in this budget. Broadsheet TODAY reported that "Salaries for political appointments - ministers, ministers of state and parliamentary secretaries - are estimated to be $58.28 million, or 8.8 per cent higher than last year." But the ministers are not pegging their self administered pay rise to the goal of a 3% growth in productivity. "If we can't achieve our 3-per-cent growth, we achieve 2, 2.5, we will say, 'It's not bad'," said Mr Goh. In other words, even if the productivity goes south, they will still stick to their 8.8% increment for what is already the world's highest payscale for ministers.