Cow Beh Cow Bu

Ministers Should Lead by Example and Cut Wages to Help the Needy as Recession Looms

ELSON: Don’t be mistaken that good time will never come to an end. It looks like they will soon as recession looms. Even if not recession, a period of economic stagnation that will last years. Already, we’re facing the effects in Singapore.

Growth has tapered from 4.7 per cent in 2013, to 3.3 per cent in 2014, to 2 per cent last year and remains at the 2 percent level this year.

The manufacturing sector faced its 13th straight month of contraction in August, whilethe services sector, which makes up about two-thirds of Singapore’s economy grew by just 1.7 per cent – the slowest pace since the 2008 financial crisis.

Businesses are folding because they can’t fight rising costs. Government data shows almost 42,000 businesses ceased in the first half of this year versus nearly 49,000 in the whole of 2015.

To scale back costs, it’s easier to trim staff or cut wages than to pump in more investment money to change systems to be more efficient.

Layoffs are at its highest in 7 years, and for the first time in 4 years, job seekers outnumber job vacancies. At SPH alone, 10 percent of staff are expected to see the door in the coming 2 years. And that’s being merciful.

NTUC is already predicting higher retrenchments this year – in some quarters, up to 31 percent more than 2015.

The outlook is bleak.

Instead of simply asking Singaporeans to accept less, be less picky about jobs, take anything that comes, why not ministers like Mr Lim Swee Say (who has said all of this) lead by example?

Accept less than the million bucks paid a year. How about half of that? And the president too, of course.

We’ll save the nation about S$140 million, and that’s not including trimming wages of all the other Ministers of States, Mayors, Parliamentary Secretaries, and MPs.

Besides being able to put that cash to good use like helping the needy tide over this tough period, it will be a great morale boost for Singaporeans to see their leaders lead by example. It shows that you’re willing to walk in our shoes.

Oh yes, and does a little red dot need 1 PM and 2 DPMS and 1 Minister in the PMO to govern it? How about a little trimming?

During the financial turmoil in the 1960s, Singapore’s first Finance Minister (and later DPM) Dr Goh Keng Swee called for the wages of top civil servants to be cut and the cash used to help the vulnerable in society.

Will we see such noble and compassionate leadership from today’s government as Singapore braces itself for the storm?

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