Saturday, November 3, 2007

The future is bleak: Rising Prices and Widening Income Gap

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has announced on Tuesday that Singapore’s economic growth is expected to slow to 4 to 6 percent in 2008. So what is in place for us? The weakening economy, rising costs in goods and services and an ever widening income gap between the rich and poor are together constructing a bleak future. As the article written by Wolfgang Reuters on Spiegel Online International noted: “It inevitably brings higher unemployment, a decline in government revenues and growing poverty.”

Our country is becoming more and more globalised but the onslaught of globalisation has caused many who are older, unemployed, less educated and less privileged to become the state’s rising disenchanted in an environment of rising costs and widening income gap.

Goods and services are getting more and more expensive. Every now and then, we hear news about increased prices of products. Online media has also aggregated list of price increases. This apparently high inflation which our government has constantly denied always has the most drastic impact on people with lower incomes, who need to spend a larger percentage of their disposable income on ordinary consumer goods than high earners. In addition, prices of oil have also hit record high levels. When oil prices go up, everything else will follow. As if coping with all these hikes is not bad enough, to rub salt into the wound, the government hiked the GST from 5% to 7% since July this year. Till now I still do not see how the GST hike could have benefited the poor as what they have claimed.

As Singapore becomes more affluent with record number of millionaires, poverty is still not something of the past. As much as our leaders try to convince us that Singapore does not have beggars, we still see them roaming the streets. Many seemed to have “evolved” into empty can and used cardboard collectors for resale back to manufacturers to earn mere pittance.

Some people have raised the inequality flag. Mr Brown, for one, has written an article “S’poreans are fed, up with progress!” for Today newspaper sometime ago to illustrate the whole issue. Martyn See, who is another, created a very touching short film named “Nation Builders” and brought out the harsh reality of how the poor eke out a living in our cosmopolitan society.

We may have lived in illusion, dreamed that we live in a wonderland, but the worst is yet to come: When the economic crisis strikes, more Singaporeans will join the league of poor and bankrupted. Let us hope you and I will not be the unfortunate ones.

Other related articles:

A bane for middle-class: On Inflation and recent Price Hikes


Anonymous said...

I find that the ST and MSM needs to counter all these bad press by indicating how the poor people can get help. Enough talk about means testing, oil price increase - tell us how are the poor being helped by our kind govt after the GST increase. There is a serious lack of information loop after the increase in GST to how our poor are being helped. Workfare by making our old work harder does not cut any ice. THere is abuse of child labour - I find the abuse of making our old work just as distasteful.

Anonymous said...

"indicating how the poor people can get help."

I think that this will not happen in a big way. Some government civil servants have already indicated that they do not wave a big flag to tell poor people where they can easily find the welfare centres.

"Welfare is a dirty word".

So is the million dollars salaries.

James Chia said...

"Enough talk about means testing, oil price increase - tell us how are the poor being helped by our kind govt after the GST increase."

I read sometime ago that the government gives out food vouchers to poor people but I heard that they have got to go through a lot of hassle like getting themselves registered, checking their income level etc. How effective this is, I do not know.

"THere is abuse of child labour - I find the abuse of making our old work just as distasteful."

You've brought out a good point that making the elderly work is as sinful as child labour abuse.

James Chia said...

"Welfare is a dirty word"

Indeed, I think the government's policy is nothing is free and you work for your money. They seem to have this mentality that everyone will become lazy and dependent on the state if they don't work.