Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Budget 2015 and beyond: Beyond Temasek?

Looked like members of the house asked practically every question they could if Temasek should be tapped under the NIR to fund a national budget that is growing because of greater social spending. They forget to ask what it takes to win elections. They simply assumed that we will grow an attitude of entitlement. Now if they conclude this from their MPS, I don't blame them. Most of my friends do not show up at MPS. The majority of Singaporeans do not show up at MPS. If we can be spoiled, we don't deserve to be independent. If we are destined to be spoiled, there is nothing the PAP or any replacement can do anything about.

So better to encourage the best from us then to assume the worst, which is the path eventually to contempt and losing elections! This is simply provoking us to stupidly cut our nose only to spite our face which I suspect is the case with public littering.

We tap the GIC and now Temasek too in the Net Investment Returns framework because we either don't collect enough taxes or prefer to lighten the tax burden. I hope it is the latter but it would ideally be neither.

If we don't collect enough taxes, we are not living within our means. If we are so good at using tax as the device to be attractive to business, we are in a price war. Both are pretty early leading indicators, years ahead for farseeing leaders on what needed to be done early to keep us most relevant and prosperous to the world. But we weren't doing that.

Today the public perception is that the government collected too much money and our poor and aged suffer from their stinginess. Voters would not support any government spending beyond our means. So I wonder why the government is now starting to go overboard in the other direction. I thought the PM said governing is like cooking fish - very gently and carefully? But he and his colleagues are too impatient and anxious for results. This is a common problem with every government in the world. Bang, bang and bang is how they all govern.

Like I said many times if we are so similar and only better than most governments we don't deserve to be special. How could we when we aren't doing the things to be extraordinary?


  1. Nobody talk elites sense of entitlement.

    No next? How bout including people pocket into nir

    Worlds first, should be

  2. "Today the public perception is that the government collected too much money". it is always a weird perception. If govts are rich, then it is always perceived to be sinful because its money they collected from the society. But let us broaden our thinking and think about this hypothetical analogous scenario. if govt doesn't have much money, on deficit, or worse still bankrupt. Does it mean it is a good thing because this shows that this supposed govt is an angel in disguised.

    that's why I feel understanding governance and society is not as simple as drawing straight lines to connect two disparate points.

    on a separate note, even after rising income tax for the rich, Singapore hasn't gone down the way of other countries yet. in fact tharman assured yest Singapore wont. tax rates are still very much lower than in the west. USA is putting in a 20% capital gain tax, yet Singapore there is none. So even if they put in a slight 1% capital gain tax in future, it is still very much lower than other countries. So there is still much more room they can extract from the wealthy at a tolerable and sustainable level for them.

    in fact raising taxes for the wealth to give the poor doesn't seem to be the PAP primary strategy. it is like a secondary strategy only. Their primary strategy is actually spelt out in Tharman's first part of his post budget speech.