Saturday, January 1, 2011

UBS: Singaporeans are Poorer than before

Singaporeans are becoming poorer and having less disposable income after 4 years of PAP rule, according to the latest release of the authoritative international study ‘Prices and Earnings’ conducted by UBS.

Singapore is now ranked the 11th most expensive city in the world, but Singaporeans are only ranked a pathetic 43th and 49th in domestic wages and purchasing power respectively, along the likes of developing countries like Turkey, Slovakia and Qatar and far below the capitals of other Asian Tigers – Seoul, Taipei and Hong Kong.

Even the Malaysians now have a higher domestic purchasing power than Singaporeans though their wages are lower than ours.

The mismatch between the GDP growth of the state and the relative poverty of Singaporeans is caused largely by the PAP’s immigration and labor policies which have allowed foreigners from all over the world to come and work in Singapore with little screening or control which is almost unheard of in other First World countries.

A Wall Street Journal editorial last year reported that the relentless influx of foreigners has depressed the wages of ordinary Singaporeans, increased the cost of living and led to an overall decline in the standard of living.

Latest statistics from the Manpower Ministry showed a gradual decline of the average monthly income of Singaporeans while inflation hit a record high of 3.8 percent in November 2010.

Prices of resale HDB flats have grown by 13.3 percent in 2010 and a shocking 51.3 percent since 2007, pricing many ordinary Singaporeans out of the open market.

Despite the statistics showing that Singaporeans have fared worse after 4 years of PAP rule, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong continued to harp on Singapore’s ’spectacular’ GDP growth last year which is artificially inflated by a ‘rebound’ from a low baseline in the previous year and by the massive import of cheap foreign workers which boost demand in services and decrease labor costs.

The multi-million dollar salaries of PAP ministers is pegged to GDP growth – the higher the growth, the more money they bring home though the rest of the population may not be enjoying the fruits from the growth.

Singapore's record 14.7% growth for 2010....
By Shamim Adam

Jan. 1 (Bloomberg) -- Singapore’s economy may be supported by a “strong” Asia as growth cools in 2011 from a record pace last year, according to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Gross domestic product rose 14.7 percent in 2010, Lee, 58, said in his New Year message released in Singapore yesterday. That compares with the government’s November forecast of a 15 percent expansion. The trade ministry predicts the economy will expand 4 percent to 6 percent this year, an estimate reiterated by Lee.

“In Asia, growth momentum is strong,” Lee said. “China and India are forging ahead, and countries in Southeast Asia are growing steadily. Hopefully Asia will continue to do well despite the weakness in developed countries, and create a favorable regional environment for Singapore.”

Asia led a global recovery last year as growth in developed markets was restrained by Europe’s sovereign credit woes and U.S. unemployment that remains above 9 percent. Singapore’s rebound has fueled inflation, prompting the central bank to allow faster currency gains and leading the government to implement measures to cool the property market.

“Inflation risks for Singapore appear to be tilted toward the upside,” Alvin Liew, a Singapore-based economist at Standard Chartered Plc, said before Lee’s message. After getting a boost from manufacturing last year, Singapore’s tourism and financial services industries will increasingly drive growth in 2011, spurred by “rising regional domestic demand from China and Southeast Asia,” he said.

Currency Appreciation

The Monetary Authority of Singapore said in October it will steepen and widen the currency’s trading band while continuing to seek a “modest and gradual appreciation,” after undertaking a one-time revaluation in April. The central bank, which uses the exchange rate rather than a benchmark interest rate as its main tool to manage inflation, guides the Singapore dollar against a basket of currencies within an undisclosed band.

The Singapore dollar climbed more than 9 percent against the U.S. currency last year, marking its biggest one-year gain since 1994 and the fourth-best performance in Asia excluding Japan. The currency, which rose 0.6 percent to S$1.2823 versus the U.S. dollar yesterday, may strengthen to S$1.24 at the end of 2011, according to a central bank survey of economists published last month.

Inflation will average between 2 percent and 3 percent this year, the central bank predicts. Consumer prices rose 3.8 percent in November, the biggest increase in 22 months.

Fastest Growing

Singapore’s estimated expansion for 2010 would make the city of 5 million people the fastest-growing economy in the world after Qatar’s, according to International Monetary Fund estimates.

“The outlook for the world economy is mixed,” Lee said. “The U.S. economy is still weak. Europe faces serious debt crises in Greece, Ireland and a few other countries.”

The economy grew 12.5 percent in the fourth quarter from a year earlier, Lee said. That compares with the 13.2 percent median estimate of 12 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News.

GDP probably increased about 6.5 percent last quarter from the previous three months, based on the year-on-year number given by Lee, said Song Seng Wun, an economist at CIMB Research Pte in Singapore. Liew at Standard Chartered estimates growth of 6.3 percent. That compares with the median forecast for an annualized 9.4 percent expansion in a Bloomberg survey of eight economists.

The economy contracted 18.7 percent from July to September. The trade ministry will release the fourth-quarter economic report at 8 a.m. on Jan. 3.

Companies Expand

The island’s biggest companies are boosting operations or expanding overseas as the global economy recovers from a slump in 2009. DBS Group Holdings Ltd., Southeast Asia’s biggest bank, said last month it will take over Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc.’s retail and commercial banking businesses in China.

Neptune Orient Lines Ltd., owner of Asia’s second-largest container line and controlled by Singapore state-investment fund Temasek Holdings Pte, in July signed a $1.2 billion contract for as many as 12 vessels with Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co.

Singapore, the second-busiest container port globally, is located at the southern end of the 600-mile (966-kilometer) Malacca Strait, the world’s busiest sea lane. The island has remained vulnerable to fluctuations in overseas demand for manufactured goods even after the government boosted financial services and tourism.

Lure of Casinos

The country’s first casinos opened last year as part of so- called integrated resorts run by Genting Singapore Plc and Las Vegas Sands Corp., luring tourists to their gambling centers, restaurants, malls and a Universal Studios theme park.

“The tourism-related sectors continued to do well as Singapore continued to hit record tourist arrivals month after month so far in 2010, with a significant role played by the integrated resorts,” said Liew of Standard Chartered. The casino-resorts “may have added 1 percentage point to headline GDP growth in 2010, excluding the potential spillover impact to other tourism-related industries such as hotels, food and beverage and even the real estate market.”

The city state added 82,000 jobs in the nine months through September, pushing the unemployment rate to 2.1 percent, the lowest level in 2 1/2 years. Average wages before adjusting for inflation rose 5.4 percent in the third quarter from a year earlier.

“Singapore is not without challenges and problems,” Lee said. “We have to manage the inflow of foreign workers and immigrants, keep home ownership affordable to all, and help low- income Singaporeans cope with the cost of living.”
By Topsage...
Consider the following statistics of life in Singapore:

1. Singaporeans work the most number of hours per week in the world.
2. Most Singaporeans will never own a car because COEs are limited.
3. The Average home of a Singapore has fallen from 1660 sq feet to about 1000 sq feet in the past decades.
4. Fertility rate in Singapore has fallen to below Japan among the lowest in the world.
5. Less half the Singaporeans can meet the minimum sum for CPF retirement accounts. Meaning many will never retire.
6. 17% of Singaporeans do not have medical insurance. The highest in the developed world give and take a few % compared with USA.
7. Singapore has the fastest growing foreigner population per capita in the world. Within a decade, the majority of people in Singapore will be foreign born.
8. Singapore has the highest paid political leaders in the world....
9. Singapore has the highest income gap of all developed countries.
10. More than one person kills himself/herself everyday. Yesterday a woman killing herself fell on another woman to give a death toll of 2.
11. Singaporeans have the highest savings rate in the world due to CPF but many still can't retire.
12. The Singapore parliament has the fewest opposition in terms of % of seats in the world among countries that claim to be democratic...of course we are also democratic.
13. Singapore bans chewing gum but legalise casinos. Casinos are legalised in only 2 of the 50 American states.
14. Singapore hangs the most people per capita in the world. Even more than China....don't believe as this feller called Shadrake.
15. Singapore cars are the most expensive in the world.
16. Singaporeans have the lowest purchasing power among all developed countries according the UBS...even Malaysians have higher purchasing power.
17. Singapore govt has the highest sovereign wealth fund per capita. ..and among the top few in absolute terms.
18. Singapore spends more on defense than Malaysia and Indonesia combined - so I guess we don't need too much diplomacy and or diplomats
can afford to badmouth them according to wikileaks. Now that they know, we better spend a $100M extra this year on defense.
17. Singapore has the No.1 civil service in the world according to Minister Lim Swee Say. I want to add we also have No.1 civil service in terms of pay for the top echelon. Some can afford french cooking lessons.
18. Singapore has only one news paper company called SPH that produces hoard of quality papers such as Straits Times, Sin Miin and other reading delights. We had 5 newspaper companies a few decades ago, I guess this business is in decline even as the population increases.
19. Singaporeans serve NS for 2-2.5 years, this is the longest in the world after Israel. We do it because we can afford the time. Many Singaporean workers will work their whole life without retirement anyway so what is the diff. putting aside 2 years.
20. Singapore has the world's oldest and wisest politician. His name is Lee Kuan Yew. As long as he is around, the good life for Singaporeans will continue. He will make sure of that.
21. Lee Kuan Yew's son is Lee Hsien Loong who coincidentally became PM due to his own merit. His New Year Message this year asks Singaporeans to be more RESILIENT. I guess we better be given all the points I wrote above.
22. Singapore has the most expensive public housing in the world....but according to Minister Mah, it is still affordable.

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