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Bertha HarianBertha Harian


Growing pains

I’ve been trying to wrap my head around the Prime Minister’s economic strategy. Reading the ST page 1 headline: Growth the way to improve our lives, makes it sound that someone is asking for NO growth. But that isn’t the case – its what rate of growth that can ensure we’re still stable as a society. Growth has already slowed, so I suppose the question is whether we want it to go even slower – deliberately? Or counter the slow growth and grow faster? Very hard for me to understand leh…

I think it’s more productive to discuss HOW we want to grow. The things we will do to grow the country, and the things we won’t. So I found other parts of what PM said rather more illuminating. Like whether the Nordic example would work for us. There was a helpful box on their tax rates (my goodness!) and some explanation of their cultural attitudes – the willingness to pay high taxes to keep a strong social safety net. Then there was a bit more on Singapore’s economic rankings – Singapore looks good country-wise, but not so when cities are compared. So do we really think we’ve made it into the top league?

One figure also stood out – $200K worth of equity in HDB flats that the lowest income have. I was wondering what point was being made about this, so I turned to BT. He’s talking about how we shouldn’t be looking at nominal wages of the poor as an indicator of well-being. The Government emphasises boosting assets more than incomes. He also said that this equity wouldn’t be captured in the Gini co-efficient on income equality. Can some economist work out the maths please?

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An ex-journalist who can't get enough of the news after being in the business for 26 years

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