13 Aug 2003
Singabloodypore plans wages shake-up
Workers KNOW their pay packets will shrink
Singaporean workers are bracing themselves for changes in their pay packets, as the government takes increasingly painful measures to help the economy. These measures only appear to be painful to the lower paid workers while those in government continue to earn salaries that are in excess of their American counterparts.Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (one of those earning excessive wages)warned that wage reforms were necessary in order for the city state to fend off fierce competition from emerging economies.
"Wage restructuring is painful medicine, but it will make our economy healthier and fitter," said Mr Lee said. Scepticism prevails that the government has now been shown to be purely reliant on the American economy. A recent free trade deal with the US, will many feel, led to increased competition within the domestic market.
But he denied the widely-held belief that wage reforms would mean smaller pay packets. Since when did your boss introduce a pay change that insured that you would earn more money?
"Wage restructuring does not mean an across the board wage cut... it means linking workers' pay more closely with their performance, making it depend less on seniority," he explained. It will not be a pay cut accross the board, merely a pay cut for those at the the lower end of the scale. If all pay in Singapore was linked to performance then the Members of Parliment would owe the people money. The role of the Members of Parliament in Singapore is that of the nodding dog in the back seat of a ford escort. Question time resembles that of a 'love-in', but without the mind altering substances.
Singapore is losing ground as a manufacturing hub, as India and China emerge as the new Asian hotspots for foreign investment. It is reported that Singapore is itself investing heavily in China, thereby fueling the overseas competition.
And the economy, once one of the region's richest, has suffered a series of setbacks.
The recent Sars epidemic caused the economy to contract by 4.2% between April and June, following a severe recession in 2001. So tackle the cause of the SARS outbreak rather than the effect.
And unemployment is stubbornly high at 4.5% and expected to rise further still. This figure is highly dubious. Recently two academics were lambasted for stating that the new jobs that were being created were being given to foreigners. They were forced to remove this claim a few days after it had been published.
The statement about wage reforms came at a speech to celebrate the state's 38th birthday.
In a televised speech, Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong announced the government was further slashing its economic growth forecast this year to between zero and 1%.
But he also promised that things would pick-up next year. Promising you the earth and unable to deliver the goods. Only if the American economy picks up next year.
"We have lowered taxes and fees, and will continue to do so to meet the competition... if we make these adjustments, we will have a clear start when business conditions pick up," he said. They may have lowered the business tax and fees, but these reductions have not been placed on the shoulders of those top earners who can afford the increase. The government has consistently increased Goods Services Tax and allowed state afiliated transport operators to increase prices for the last two years, which affects those least able to cope.
"We will not just cope, we will soar again," he vowed. I am quite sure that he hasn't been eating maggie mee for the last 12 months.