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The love of tangible measurement

March 5, 2012 1 comment

One dear MP Mr Vikram Nair had been criticized on the online world after his relentless attacks on how Chen Show Mao intend to justify the cost of more social spending. It is fair to ask whether such costs can be sustained. But then again, it’s a matter of choice. Spending on society usually reaps benefits that are intangible. Comparatively, the government seem to prefer spending on items that reap tangible benefits, such as throwing money to Temasek Holdings, GIC and yes, even our privatized transport operators SBS and SMRT. Spending money one way or another is just spending. There is no discrimination in absolute terms.

The questions we should be asking are whether we can afford to spend more on society, whether the disadvantaged group needed help and what are the government’s priorities. It’s simply a matter of political will. If the government don’t think it’s important, the political will to spend more for society won’t exist. With our fiscal surplus running into the billions, I say Singapore can well afford it. Of course, I wouldn’t know how many more billions were lost through ‘tangible spending’ in investments headed by the Prime Minister and his wife. Maybe we lost so much money that the government can no longer afford? And does the disadvantaged group needed more help? I wouldn’t know. But if the Gini coefficient is used as a blunt instrument, then maybe yes, we should contribute more help. 

If Vikram Nair is indeed sincerely worried about the sustainability of spending more on society, I am worried how on earth Singapore can afford to pay their ministers millions upon millions of dollars a year despite their less-than-desired performance. I am also very worried how the public can continue to force subsidize inefficient privatized public transportation operators and yet there is nothing we can do. Since Mr Vikram is really worried about the fiscal health of the government, maybe he should be asking these questions instead of attacking the opposition for the sake of opposing. If every cost need to be substantiated, I would say the cost of having certain MPs in Parliament is a complete waste of tax payer’s money.

P.S. I will post another post on the ridiculous subsidy of S$1,100,000,000.00 to SBS and SMRT when I have more spare time.

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