Tuesday, November 12, 2013

More On Affordability

It boils down to this: will you buy a used car from this guy? Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew pledged before the House that the discounts given will more than offset any fare increase in the next fare review exercise. Maintaining the same poker face, he segued on to the part about fares not being less affordable for the average commuter, and more affordable for the low income and disadvantaged groups. Everbody else pays more. The perverted Pareto principle states that 80% of the effects (increases) come from 20% of the causes (rebates). Not in this Singapore version of Tricky Dick's vocabulary is the option of reducing fares by maximising cost efficiencies and higher productivity.

Big deal, transport firms will give part of extra revenue creamed from rise of fares to enhance travel vouchers to the poor. Lest we forget, only half of 200,000 vouchers were taken up in 2011. What was not collected, was siphoned back into the stash fund of the greedy buggers.

Just as duplicitous was the keechiu general, who distributed his "rainbow-colored chart of a range of aids that gives bigger sums to the low-income". For instance, with ComCare, more than 8,500 citizens receive up to $108 a month in kindergarten subsidies. Then Dr Intan Azura Mokhtar (Ang Mo Kio GRC) had to prick the bubble by pointing out that a wait of two to four weeks for ComCare frustrated her residents. Her call for "front-line staff to be more flexible in giving help" confirms someone else was also speaking with a forked tongue when Foreign and Law Minister Shanmugam issued his challenge for anyone to find a government that is more "welfarist". We'll believe the guy when the poor can collect food stamps from welfare centers instead of having to grovel at a meet-the-people session.

There's good reason why the Government studiously avoids the "w" word, it also exposes the abuse of the "s" word. Explaining "a hard cash subsidy" for housing goes to 83 percent of the population, Shanmugam disabused claims of HDB profiteering by repeating the fantasy that it has to pay market rates for land, and the money goes into the reserves. We may not have typhoons blowing our way, but we batten down the hatches for the worst each time another "subsidy" is announced.


  1. ST tried to frame the discount as "substantial" but when you read further, the discounts given will only offset any fare increase in the next fare review exercise. What they mean by "concession" is quite clear now, i.e. you are allowed to skip one cycle of fare increase. After that, you will pay more and more, year after year, but still deem under concession.

    The government can no longer hope that they can take more give back less (in terms of subsidy, discount, concession), keep the rest for themselves and expect people to thank them for their "kindness". They have to be prepared for greater backlash.

    As the saying goes, it's easier to say sorry than ask for permission. Don't expect the government to seek people's permission for fare hike. They would rather say sorry in the next election.

  2. Affordability is used time and time again by PAP and ST. Its a word no one really know what it means. Just a beautiful word to smoke everybody out. If they have a heart to give the poor, just give and do not make it so difficult for the less educated citizen. Be genuine that is!

  3. Adam Smith on the regressive characteristics of failing 'stationary states':

    "In every different branch, the oppression of the poor must establish the monopoly of the rich, who by engrossing the whole trade to the,selves, will be able to make very large profits"

    Sounds exactly like red dot. I bet the elitist Oxbridge PPE never read Adam Smith, Keynes is their bible - big (and rich and elitist and corrupt) government is their goal.

  4. I propose that the Singapore government be nominated for the Ig Nobel Economics Prize in 2014. The supporting reasons are two-fold. First, for making things more affordable for its people through rampant price increases in public utilities, transportation and housing. Second, for building up an awesome reserves through generous acts like giving out market subsidies, vouchers for daily necessities and concessions with every price hike.

    If they are to win, it will be the second time in history that Singapore wins the prize. LKY won the first in 1994 under the Psychology category for his thirty-year study of the effects of punishing three million citizens of Singapore whenever they spat, chewed gum, or fed pigeons.

  5. The correct question for civil society to ask, is of course their definition of "subsidies" and how "unsubsidised prices" are calculated. Who for example, has ever verified the cost of an "unsubsidised" medical bill? We know that the government made available its old stock of N95 masks which were on-sold to public at almost twice the market rate (Mustafa - at $1.8 a piece sold individually, not in packets) during the recent haze month. Who has audited the government's costings of land prices to the HDB? Thanks to economist Yeo Lam Keong who published a letter to the ST last year and some bloggers' follow up, we now know that Singapore spends far less than neighboring countries like HK, Taiwan or South Korea on healthcare, and far more on defence. So would ministers kindly explain to civil society, how a government who spends the lowest on medical expenses among developed countries, would qualify as 'the most welfarist' nation? Civil society, on the other hand, has every right to believe, based on the highest paid salaries of ministers and civil servants in Singapore, that it is the most extravagant nation when it comes to salaries and benefits for those in the bureaucracy and the ruling elites and cronies.

  6. Those greedy buggers still don't get it, do they ?

    It's not so much of whether they should not be charging for the land cost or not. But rather what is the actual cost that they say is attributed to land ? So far there has been no transparency but they keep saying it is affordable & very subsidised, blah, blah, blah and yet there is no substantiated figures to back them up that they have not lying to us.

    But then how d they explain that a new multi-generation flat of a bigger floor area they are going to build in Yishun is now priced much cheaper than that of recent BTO 4-flat with a much smaller floor are in Sengkang ? Looks like they have already suka suka messed up big time with their obscene profiteering in the sale of BTO flats all these years ?

    And those buggers still insist that they are still being sold with a big subsidy when in reality that subsidy can only be realised only in 5 years time when min occupation period is up, isn't it ? So in fact what they has effectively done is to somehow built in some profit margin in the new BTO flat price in anticipation of what market value they would have fetched in the open market in 5 years time ?

    So is there an element of deceit when they insisted that the BTO flat is heavily subsidised if indeed they have build into it some kind of hidden profit margin ?

  7. The PAP government is heavily subsidized by Singaporeans' National Service.
    - It's the PAP government who has the subsidy mentality.

    1. The 60 %daft Singaporeans must first understand that the affordability problems associated with HDB flats, private housing, medical costs, private transport, raising children, retirement, etc, have been self inflicted by voting the PAP, even when it's crystal clear the PAP team is led by a useless PM surrounded by stooges.
      They must now ask themselves whether the PAP's big plan to have 6.9 M on this island can or will make things more affordable in the long run.

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