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Bertha HarianBertha Harian


SME puzzle

Okay, I like numbers. When I read an article with numbers in them, my eyes move back and forth (which they shouldn’t in a well-written report) to see if the numbers make sense. More so, when I see a definitive headline like the one in ST on SMEs moving, scaling down or closing. This was based on a “quick check” with 25 SMEs. I concede you can’t carpet bomb all 160,000 SMEs here (yes, that’s how many) But you can narrow your target to just the SMEs which will be affected by the new foreign worker reductions to come. So how many is that? If you believe MOM, that would be 9,000 service-related and manufacturing firms that now employ a lot of foreigners. That’s a minority, and 25 is a minority of a minority. Half of them said that their expansion plans would be set back because of this. I should think so as structural reforms have to begin at home.

I found the other story on Automation not for all firms more useful. So you can’t have a robot driving and doing deliveries, or filling in invoices. For those actions which can’t be automated, then pay the people a bit more? The complaint is that locals don’t stay long – and foreigners do. I should think so too, since foreigners who want to stay here HAVE to keep employed. So pay them peanuts and they still stay. Local, unfortunately or not, have a choice. Isn’t it better to look at the wages for these staff? Is it the case that they are grossly underpaid? I mean, that’s why there’s a push for higher salaries for the lower income.

In any case, if I were an SME with foreign workers, I would have no problems exaggerating the extent of my difficulty. I want to make money after all and if having more foreign workers can do the trick, I will raise the sceptre of moving, scaling down or closing….

There’s another story in ST that I thought was useful – Find middle ground: Economists, MPs/Choice betwee Singapore and Scandinavian models “need not be either/or”.

Good to continue this discussion on economic models to follow, rather than harp on the old hoary chestnut of how slow should we grow….

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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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