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Singapore Jobless Still High Despite "Econ Rebound"

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  • sg_review@yahoogroups.com
    http://sg.biz.yahoo.com/040730/15/3m2vf.html Friday July 30, 4:13 PM UPDATE:Singapore Jobless Still High Despite Econ Rebound SINGAPORE (Dow
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 30, 2004
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      http://sg.biz.yahoo.com/040730/15/3m2vf.html

      Friday July 30, 4:13 PM
      UPDATE:Singapore Jobless Still High Despite Econ Rebound
      SINGAPORE (Dow Jones)--Singapore's unemployment rate stayed at 4.5%
      for the third consecutive quarter in the April-June period as fewer
      jobs were created despite the strong economic recovery.

      Employment rose by about 10,400 in the quarter, according to
      preliminary estimates by the Ministry of Manpower Friday, a smaller
      gain than 13,700 in the first three months of the year and 16,200 in
      October-December last year.

      The data surprised economists, who had expected the jobless rate to
      improve to 4.3%, and raise doubts whether unemployment can fall to 4%
      by year-end, as forecast by the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

      GK Goh regional economist Song Seng Wun estimates that more than
      20,000 jobs will have to be created in each of the next two quarters
      if unemployment is to fall to 4%. "That might be a tall order," he
      said.

      UOB-Kay Hian economist Leslie Tang, however, is sticking to his
      forecast that unemployment will fall to 3.8% by year-end.

      "Given that retrenchments have slowed and jobs are still being
      created gradually, we remain optimistic that we should see an
      improvement in the unemployment rate by year-end," he said.

      According to the manpower ministry, preliminary data showed that
      1,900 workers were retrenched in the second quarter, down from 2,962
      in the previous quarter. Total employment was 2.16 million at the end
      of June, the ministry said.

      Singapore's economy grew 11.7% year-on-year in the second quarter
      according to the government's advance estimates, following a 7.4%
      expansion in the first three months of the year.

      The strong performance followed years of insipid growth as the island
      was first hit by the 1997/98 Asian financial crisis, which was
      followed by the dot.com crash at the end of 2000 and a SARS outbreak
      last year.

      Singapore is, however, struggling with structural unemployment, as
      growing industries like biomedical and financial services fail to
      absorb older, lesser-educated workers displaced by the relocation of
      factories to China and other low-cost locations.

      J.P. Morgan Chase economist Lian Chia-Liang said there is a still-
      significant structural component in Singapore's unemployment,
      particularly among locals, noting the gap between the resident
      jobless rate and the overall rate has widened compared with the
      1990s.

      Among citizens and permanent residents, the jobless rate was 5% in
      June, marginally lower than 5.1% in March, the manpower ministry
      said.

      It added that without adjusting for seasonal influences, the overall
      unemployment rate rose to 5.3% in June from 3.8% in March, reflecting
      the increase in the number of job seekers as this year's batch of
      university and polytechnic graduates enter the labor market.

      Among the resident labor force, the non-adjusted unemployment rate
      was 5.9%, up from 4.3% in March.

      An estimated 103,000 residents were unemployed in June 2004, while
      the seasonally adjusted figure was 89,000, the ministry added.

      ----------------------------------------------------------------------
      -------

      Mellanie Hewlitt
      18 June 2004
      Singapore Review

      SPH/Straits Times Paving The Way For Ministers Pay Hike

      After a brief temporary period of "pay cuts", Singapore's Ruling
      Elite have deemed the economic conditions appropriate for
      a "restoration" of their handsome salaries".

      The announcement was formally made in the 18 June 2004 edition of the
      Straits Times "Ministers, top civil servants to have pay cuts
      restored".

      In fact, political analysts and Singapore review have predicted more
      then a month before that the economic conditions in Singapore would
      take a sudden magical change to herald in the restoration of ministerial
      salaries (see previous issue of Singapore 17 May 2004 below).The
      National Wage Council had schedules wage hikes for Singapore
      Ministers to be effective from July 2004. This was announced one to
      two years back when it was declared that the Minister's wage cuts
      would last only a year and would be restored by July 2004.

      Was it mere coincidence that we saw reports in the local government
      owned press of a marked improvement in the economy just 3-4 months
      before the scheduled wage hikes?Looking at it from another angle,
      Singapore Ministers are a rare breed.

      I have yet to see a similiar occurrence in the private sector where
      the employer confirms to the employee that "your pay cut will be
      restored in a year's time." In the private sector, wage cuts and
      retrenchments have a permanent effect. Any restoration is entirely at
      the discretion of the employer and is never cast in stone.

      One other oddity is that although economic conditions are reported by
      the local government owned press to have improved, there are no
      figures reported by the local press on a similiar improvement in the
      unemployment rates.

      Instead, the new catchword in the industry is a "Jobless
      Recovery".Yes, there are many articles of new jobs being created. But
      that should also be accompanied by reports confirming a equivalent
      drop in unemployment rates. Are Singapore workers benefiting from the
      fruits of the much touted economic recovery? Where are all the jobs
      going?

      WHERE ARE THEY FIGURES WHICH SHOULD SHOW A FALL IN UNEMPLOYMENT RATES?

      WHERE ARE THE ANNOUNCEMENTS THAT CONFIRM A LONG OVERDUE CPF
      RESTORATION?

      The latest "wage restoration" in reality amounts to a wage increase
      on already severely inflated salaries for Singapore Ministers well-
      paid ministers. But the glaring double standards do not end there.

      Even as Singapore's Ruling Elite endorse their own salary increments,
      there are no similiar moves for a CPF restoration for the rest of the
      working population. If the economy really has recovered sufficiently
      enough to allow what in actuality amounts to a wage hike for
      Singapore Ministers, why is there no restoration of the long overdue
      CPF cuts which were unilaterally imposed so long ago?

      Perhaps the answer lies in the revenue streams which actually fund
      the wage hikes of Ministers and civil servants. These come directly
      (or indirectly) from public funds and tax payers revenues (put simply
      out of the blood and sweat of the common folks).In stark contrast,
      private sector CPF restorations will be funded from the pockets of
      private sector employers.

      This double standard in wage management is glaring, but few will dare
      to raise any protest given the government established stand on public
      debate and expression.So the net-effect is that the average Joe on
      the street is hit with a double whammy - He pays for a confirmed wage
      hike for Singapore Ministers and civil servants, but cannot enjoy any
      fruits accompanying the so called
      economic recovery.

      The only answer that Singapore Ministers have to all the above
      unanswered questions is (drum roll please) that National Service will
      be cut to two years. This is supposed to right all wrongs, even when
      one cannot help but notice that the so called reduced period for
      National Service is still longer then similiar
      conscription periods in other developed countries (Switzerland,
      Italy, Taiwan of approx 1 year plus).

      We recirculate below old articles and discussion threads which have
      continued relevance today, which sadly signifies that little has
      changed in Singapore in the intervening years.

      What Singapore's over confident and complacent Ruling Elite do not
      seem to realize is that their rediculous and highly inflated salaries
      are stretching an already wafer thin vener of credibility and trust
      with the general public.

      --- In Sg_Review@yahoogroups.com -------------------------------------
      --------------

      It is less than a month before the expected announcement of pay
      reinstatement of minsterial pay, and the local government owned media
      is already softening up the populace.

      Indeed the head lines are blaring:
      Govt accepts wage guidelines
      NWC calls for moderate wage increases
      Pay rises of up to 4% likely, say employers
      Build safety nets while economy is picking up: unions

      Paving the way for another wave of ministerial pay increases.

      Many however have not been able to see any tangible benefits from the
      economy recovery that has been much touted by the government and the
      local papers. Unemployment is still at an all time high.

      Paying Mere Lip Service: Talk is Cheap.
      It is also noteworthy that whilst the government has no qualms about
      imposing a specific figure for an across the board CPF cut, a
      similiar resolute gesture is lacking when advocating wage increases
      in a supposed recovery. The likely result is that few Singaporans
      will see the actual benefits of a wage restoration.

      We circulate below an old article which has continued relevance today.

      ----------------------------------------------------------------------
      --------------------

      Editor's Comments:
      According to the National Wages Council recommendations, the
      ministers' pay-cut of 10% is only for one year, starting from July
      2003.

      http://www.contactsingapore.org.sg/nm/oversea_sg/news/nbusiness_br_220
      52003_1.htm

      Amidst the doom and gloom, with increasing costs of living, reduced
      CPF rates and increasing GST rates, many Singaporeans are still
      taking home much less then 10% of the average pay packet of a
      Singapore Minister.

      Lets not even talk about whether its the right time and place to
      restore severely inflated ministerial salaries. One really wonders if
      there really was a substantive pay-cut in the first place.

      We re-circulate below an old Singapore Review article for your
      reading pleasure as well as recent comments from internet forumers on
      latest issue.

      Commentary on Ministers pay cut
      Singapore Review, 2 May 2003
      By Mellanie Hewlitt

      The headlines blared loudly in the 2 May 2003 issues of the Straits
      Times and Business Times "Pay cut? Ministers ready to lead by
      example: DPM", announcing to the entire world this selfless act of
      leadership by Singapore's Ruling Elite.

      In what appeared to be an initial move to reduce severely inflated
      salaries, to more reasonable industry standards, Singapore's Ruling
      Elite have bowed to public pressure and hinted at accepting a pay
      cut.

      Or have they?

      What exactly does "Leading By Example" mean? Lets try to put some
      substance behind those brave words. As of last count, average take
      home pay of a Singapore minister was well in excess of SGD100,000/- a
      month.

      The below table puts things back in proper perspective: (these are
      basic figures as of July 2000 and did not include last year's pay
      hikes or other benefits. Otherwise the updated numbers may well be
      much larger)

      1. Singapore Prime Minister's Basic Salary US$1,100,000
      (SGD1,958,000) a year Minister's Basic: US$655,530 to US$819,124
      (SGD1,166,844 to SGD1,458,040) a year

      2. United States of America President: US$200,000 Vice President:
      US$181,400 Cabinet Secretaries: US$157,000

      3. United Kingdom Prime Minister: US$170,556 Ministers: US$146,299
      Senior Civil Servants: US$262,438

      4. Australia Prime Minister: US$137,060 Deputy Prime Minister:
      US$111,439 Treasurer: US$102,682

      5. Hong Kong Chief Executive : US$416,615 Top Civil Servant:
      US$278,538 Financial Sec: US$315,077

      Source: Asian Wall Street Journal July 10 2000

      In relative terms, less then 20% of Singaporeans here have take home
      salaries exceeding SGD100,000/- A YEAR.

      In stark contrast, BASIC SALARY FOR A MINISTER STARTS AT SGD1,166,844
      A YEAR,OR JUST UNDER SGD100,000 A MONTH.

      What these ministers earns in just ONE MONTH exceeds the ANNUAL TAKE
      HOME salary of 80% of Singapore's income earning population. Lets not
      even
      begin to compare annual packages which will exceed SGD1 million
      easily.

      With the above numbers and figures now in perspective, it is easier
      to give substance to the words "leading by example". Several facts
      are noteworthy here;

      a) That the ministerial salaries are grossly out of proportion, even
      when compared with their counterparts in much larger countries (US
      and UK) who have far heavier responsibilities.

      b) That these salary reductions were long overdue. In the past, such
      handsome remuneration were "justified" on the back of resounding
      performance. However, Singapore's economy has been in the doldrums
      of a recession for several years now (with beginnings reaching as
      far back as the 1997 Asian economic crisis). This economic barometer
      is a rough measure of performance and implies that ministerial
      salaries were due for review at least 3-4 years ago.

      c) That adjustments should be made to bring them back within the
      industry benchmarks. Taking the salary of US vice president as a
      rule of thumb, the percentage for reductions should start at 50% of
      current pay. Even if a Singapore minister takes a 50% pay-cut, he
      would still be earning much more then the US vice president.

      d) The percentage reductions should greater then 50% if the intent is
      to bring the salaries within the perspective of Singapore's domestic
      scene.

      With such inflated figures, it is understandable why the local
      government controlled media (Singapore Press Holdings) have taken
      pains to exclude mention of actual numbers for the world to see. The
      numbers would be too glaring and no amount of window dressing or
      creative writing could have reconciled these numbers with a sane
      figure and restored credibility.

      It is unlikely that Singapore's Ruling Elite will accept such huge
      salary cuts. Exactly How much and when the ministerial pay-cuts takes
      effect is not revealed. Ask any man on the street and 9 out of 10
      responses indicate many agree the current ministerial salaries are
      grossly inflated, especially in these lean and difficult times.

      Said a long time forumer from an internet political chat group:
      "First of all the Ministers are NOT leading on pay cut. Workers'
      salaries have been drastically reduced since the beginning of the
      recession while thousands have been unemployed. so the Ministers are
      NOT LEADING. they are only CATCHING UP. And they have several decades
      to catch up on."

      "Secondly, how much of a pay cut will Ministers take? 10%? 20%?
      unless its a cut that will affect their lifestyles, it is merely
      symbolic and they would still not know what it feels like to be a
      normal worker. as such, this is not Leading by Example. Its just
      another bogus political propaganda stunt"

      A 29 yr old executive who requested to remain anonymous admitted
      sheepishly ; "The numbers (ministerial salaries) are a national
      embarrassment really, because it reflects the underlying
      materialistic value systems of Singapore Ministers. No matter how you
      look at it, the fact remains that our ministers are money faced, and
      these are supposed to be Singapore's leaders, with value systems that
      Singaporeans should follow." "It (the ministerial salaries) puts
      Singapore in a bad light in the eyes of the world. The rest of
      Singaporeans really put in an honest days work for every penny they
      earn. And the process for review and approval of the ministerial
      salaries is also a joke. Imagine sitting on the board and approving
      (on White Paper)your own salary increments! Its all a wayang show".

      This also raises the question as to the authenticity of the actual
      process for review and approval of cabinet minister's salaries. Who
      decides on these numbers? Is there independence and transparency?

      Veteran opposition figure J.B. Jeyaretnam on Wednesday, Nov 20, 2002
      challenged Singapore government ministers to take a pay cut to show
      they understand the economic hardships faced by the public. And the
      over-riding concern is that Singapore's Ruling Elite are unable to
      appreciate the economic hardship that the masses face in these tough
      times.

      The growing public resentment comes afew months after PM Goh's
      careless comments that "lay-offs were not all bad", drew a backlash
      from the public with a flood of e-mails being sent to the foreign
      press to register public indignation.

      Source Sg_Review group

      Singapore Review welcomes honest feedback on this hotly debated
      topic. You can Send your comments to the editor: mellaniehewlitt@y...


      ----------------------------------------------------------------------
      -------

      -THE RESPONSE FROM THE PUBLIC-

      ----------------------------------------------------------------------
      -------

      This message from The Sammyboy.com Alfresco Coffee Shop on
      DelphiForums.com was forwarded to you

      From: IDIOTWIND66 07:24
      To: Sg Review Editor (MHEWLITT)

      According to the National Wages Council recommendations, the
      ministers' pay-cut of 10% is only for one year, starting from July
      2003.

      http://www.contactsingapore.org.sg/nm/oversea_sg/news/nbusiness_br_220
      52003_1.htm

      Our dearest ministers took a pay cut of 10% last year June. The cut
      will be restored in June 2004.

      When is the peasant's CPF cut going to restored?

      Answer: ?

      -----------------------------------------------------------------

      The nation-builder press, Aug 20, 2001.

      With GST confirmed to rise to 5 per cent on Jan 1 2004, it will mean
      an additional burden to bear of $1.32 billion a year, forever.

      The government has also refused to restore CPF cuts until 2005. Which
      means the 1999 CPF cuts, which cost Singapore workers $7.5 billion in
      earnings a year, will remain till 2005. That's a total of $45 billion
      that workers will have sacrificed so far.

      Workers wages will either be frozen or cut further by order of the
      National Wages Council. Living in $ingapore is a high cost affair.
      And WORKERS ARE THE ONES ASKED TIME AND TIME AGAIN TO BEAR THE BURDEN
      AND MAKE THE SACRIFICE.

      PAP's million dollar ministers will have their pay cuts restored in
      June 2004.


      ----------------------------------------------------------------------
      ----

      From: LAND_OF_LEES 1-Jan 02:45
      To: IDIOTWIND66

      I find it funny that not too long ago, they said no to restoring the
      SIA pilots' pay, during the alpha-S debacle.

      We must stop the MIW from doing Singapore in.

      ----------------------------------------------------------------------
      ---------

      From: IDIOTWIND66 1-Jan 03:38
      To: All 6 of 35

      THE HIGHER COST OF POWER AND POSTAGE STAMPS IN 2004
      Every $ingaporean will be affected by these two brand new price
      increases announced in the nation-builder press and suitably with a
      misleading headline. The report said:

      "Singapore Power will be raising electricity charges by an average of
      0.17 cents this month. Domestic and non-domestic users of low tension
      supplies will now pay 15.44 cents per kilowatt-hour.

      "From Feb 3, Singapore Post will be increasing the price for standard
      mail weighing 20g and 40g by one cent to $0.23 and $0.31
      respectively."

      Your one cent also they want.

      Plus this: "From this month, the Government will cut starting pay in
      the civil service by up to 20 per cent to keep salaries in line with
      private sector ones."

      PAP's million dollar ministers will have their pay cuts restored in
      June 2004.

      ----------------------------------------------------------------------
      ------

      From: CKCA 1-Jan 06:25
      To: IDIOTWIND66 13 of 35

      I believe that when an individual is earning about $1 million a year,
      and if he or she is in it to serve the country, he or she would be
      willing to set an example by delaying the proposed restoration of pay
      cut.
      I would assume that $1 million per year plus intangible benefits
      would be more than sufficient. Please remember that when an
      individual dies, he cannot take the money, motor vehicles and houses
      with him.

      If they believe that they are able to earn double or triple the total
      compensation package paid to them by the government, they are free to
      go, but should not go to government affiliated corporations and/or
      agencies.

      Perhaps, it is time to introduce a new political system.

      ----------------------------------------------------------------------
      ------

      From: D_YAMATO 1-Jan 06:41
      To: IDIOTWIND66 14 of 35

      bastard pap ministers and all civil service employees (excluding the
      lowest level one) are PURE ANIMALS selfish and disgusting.
      Incapable of creating business, merely blocking business.

      Incapable of working well, yet claiming high salary + bonus.

      ----------------------------------------------------------------------
      -

      From: LAND_OF_LEES 1-Jan 07:00
      To: modSCF (AMARILLO1) 16 of 35

      39209.16 in reply to 39209.15

      If the MIW can be corrupted when the pay is slightly lower, this
      means that their integrity is questionable.
      We should impose a 70% Ministerial pay cut, then in GCT words, the
      PAPies "would reveal their own flaws".

      ----------------------------------------------------------------------
      -------

      Forum: The Sammyboy.com Alfresco Coffee Shop Forum
      Subject: Ministers' Salaries: Govt Replies
      From: (IDIOTWIND66)
      To: (ALL)
      DateTime: 01/01/2004 10:02:20

      Got this from the Cut Waste Panel.

      http://app.mof.gov.sg/cutwaste/suggestionview.asp?id=135

      If you've ever wondered why ministers are paid so highly, just rread
      this. It will enlighten you no end.

      PS: Caps are my own.

      Category : Prime Ministers Office

      Subject : minister's salaries

      Suggestion : even in times of difficulties and after the cpf cuts,
      our ministers are still earning close to a million dollars per year.
      the average income of the singaporean has fallen, isnt it time our
      ministers follow suit and reduce their salaries to set an example?

      Date of Reply : 29/10/2003

      Reply : Ministerial Salaries

      We believe in having COMPETITIVE salaries for Ministers, so as to be
      able to attract able people into leadership positions, while
      maintaining a high standard of integrity. The 1994 White Paper
      on "Competitive Salaries for Honest and Competent Government"
      provided the framework for doing so. Over the years, the framework
      has been refined and robustly debated in Parliament on many occasions.

      Under the existing framework, ministerial salaries are RIGOROUSLY
      reviewed every year, using salary data from the private sector as the
      benchmarks. Ministerial salaries are SUPPOSED to move in tandem with
      the private sector benchmarks.

      Notwithstanding this, in recent years we have frozen and reduced
      Ministerial salaries well below the established benchmarks, in order
      to set the example during difficult times. The Government took the
      further initiative to cut ministers' salaries by a COMBINED TOTAL of
      30% in Nov 2001 and Jul 2003.

      The big items of expenditure are maintaining the SAF, providing
      PRACTICALLY FREE education in schools, subsidized HDB housing and
      healthcare services for the people. Cutting Ministerial salaries,
      even to zero, is not going to solve our current economic
      difficulties, because Ministerial salaries form a MINISCULE
      percentage of Government's expenditure. Instead we would be sending a
      DANGEROUS signal to investors and the rest of the world that during
      hard times, Singaporeans prefer to give up an able leadership rather
      than tackling serious problems facing the country.

      Information on Salaries

      Ministerial salary benchmarks were provided in Parliament on 29 Jun
      2000. The Straits Times article "Paying what it takes for a first
      class Civil Service" on 30 June 2000 provided comprehensive details
      on the benchmarks and salary components of political appointment
      holders.

      When ministers took a combined 30% pay cut in Nov 2001 and Jul 2003,
      details were again provided in the press, including Straits Times
      articles "Ministers to take 10% pay cut from July" on 23 May 2003,
      and "DPM Lee answers critics of 10% pay cut" on 24 May 2003.

      Additional information was provided in the 10 Sep 2003 Straits Times
      article "Cutting Ministers' pay 'won't trim fat' ".

      Information on Ministerial salaries can also be requested through the
      respective MPs in Parliament.

      Joyce Chia
      Assistant Director (Public Affairs & Admin)
      Public Service Division
      Prime Minister's Office
      Tel: 6332 7198

      ----------------------------------------------------------------------
      ----

      From: IDIOTWIND66 10:15
      To: ALL

      It's incredible! She only gives this same standard reply to all
      suggestions about ministers' salaries.

      Don't believe?

      Read these:

      http://app.mof.gov.sg/cutwaste/suggestionview.asp?id=139

      http://app.mof.gov.sg/cutwaste/suggestionview.asp?id=143

      http://app.mof.gov.sg/cutwaste/suggestionview.asp?id=136

      http://app.mof.gov.sg/cutwaste/suggestionview.asp?id=138


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