Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Budget 2013: Sounds good but it's the numbers

Almost every budget is like this isn't it? You can't quarrel with the policy thrusts but you have much to be dismayed with the numbers. In putting out a fire, it is like bringing in small pails for the job. In watering the nurseries, it is like using cans of water.

I had started analyzing the budget beginning with the increased Work Fare contributions, which Yeoh Lam Keong show is manifestly inadequate. Now from the horse's mouth, the SMEs cry that the support they will get in insufficient. In one line they say, it is simply about the survival of the fittest. I wished it could be the survival of the most adaptable, which is what Darwin had always meant.

After years of overly generous support with cheap foreign manpower, many SMEs might just roll over and die than adapt and innovate. At this rate, I can only hope that in most business niches there are a few farsighted and gutsy entrepreneurs waiting for others to give up and hand over the opportunities to them. I also hope the government do not allow the GLCs to quickly fill the vacuum left behind but give more time for the private sector to come in.

Business problems can often be solved, but the socio-economic ones are the hard nuts to crack because it is often tied up with an increasingly outdated social compact. The government which claim to be extraordinary and paid to be cannot simply recuse itself that it is a global problem. We had gone along with paying and trusting them because previously they were good at solving the really hard problems. This is no longer true. How can it be with a budget of tweaks and action-response better described as fire fighting than farseeing. Where are the progressive and unifying ideas that tie them all together?

Link to CNA story: http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporebusinessnews/view/1256439/1/.html?cid=FBSG

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