Archive for March, 2007

What’s this place worth to you?

March 31, 2007

I refer to the article “What’s this place worth to you?” by Mr Paul Jacob that appeared in the Straits Times on 24th Mar 2007.

Mr Jacob exposes our true selves – ever envious of those better than us but seldom sparing a thought for the less fortunate. It serves as a timely reminder for our elites to stop comparing themselves with top bankers and accountants and to focus instead on improving the livelihood of the commoners.

He urges us to look at where we came from and who got us where we are today. But this epic journey back in time invariably stops at 1965, a good 156 years after that moment of history when Singapore was founded as the gateway between the Far East and the West. It is the same true self that Mr Jacob exposed earlier that leads our leaders to see only their own contributions but not those who came before them, for what would modern Singapore be, without our British predecessors?

He reminds us of such grand undertakings as the transformation of Jurong swamp into the engine room for the modern Singapore economy and the creation of the icon that would be Singapore Airlines. But these are the contributions of our leaders from an earlier era, contributions we Singaporeans are forever grateful for. What has our present generation of politicians to show for other than their constant bickering for more millions?

It took our leaders nearly forty years to finally do something about Sentosa and they are already putting that into their bag of contributions before work has even completed. If the casino-resort provides jobs to Singaporeans, where would those Singaporeans come from? They would come from similar jobs elsewhere on the island. If it is the casino of the casino-resort that would bring in the dough, then fellow Singaporean gamblers would be the ones footing the bill and paying salaries. If it is the resort of the casino-resort that brings in the cash instead, then why have the casino?

It is not that citizens do not appreciate the fact that Singapore ticks, but all first world cities tick but none of them blackmail their citizens with that ticking. Hygienic eating places and clean running water are commonly available in all first world cities. The government constantly emphasizes our first world status so comparison has to be with fellow first world cities. What is it that we have here that other places don’t have? Why must it only be us who has to pay a premium for what everybody else has?

Yes, under table money doesn’t get me my flat fast, nothing else does.

Suddenly, all the million and one things that average folks like you and I accomplish everyday goes to our prime minister. If the prime minister were to go tomorrow, would you stop writing? Would I stop working? Would we stop contributing?

The people who looked at the threat of China, looked at just around the same time when everyone realised they’ve been retrenched.

All the things that are collectively provided by Singaporeans are collectively worth the whole of Singapore and the prize goes ultimately to all Singaporeans, not to one or two politicians.

The comfort of my home comes at a price that is probably five times those found in similar cities elsewhere. The security of our homes is provided for by our serving national service. Our freedom to worship is just one compared to the many more freedoms we do not have, that people elsewhere take for granted. The quality of our government would be nothing without the quality of its people and the strength of the Singapore brand ultimately rests with Singaporeans.

Paying my politician top dollar may not dent my pocket, but it brings anger to many ordinary Singaporeans who has to pay more for everything without having the freedom to write his own paycheck. What the politicans have to show of late doesn’t demonstrate the talent they claim to have nor justify the millions they are demanding. The pact of mutual benefit that has been more oft used than it should is fast losing faith amongst Singaporeans who find their salaries relatively unchanged in a decade when ministers, in good times or bad, continue to earn millions.


World class already

March 31, 2007

I refer to the letter “World class, we already are” published on 22 Mar 2007.

I agree with Mr Mahbubani that Singapore is already world class and should stop trying hard to. We should stop trying to be world class for world class’s sake, just like we should stop trying to be first for first’s sake. Years of struggling to be number one in school has led our elites to become prepossessed with the meaningless pursuit of that namesake of a goal.

I also agree with all the criteria he cited for Singapore’s being world class except for biodiversity. The amount of biodiversity that Singapore has is the same as any 683 sq km plot in Papua New Guinea, Costa Rica or Indonesia. That biodiversity has everything to do with our location in the tropics and nothing with us being world class. Moreover, our mostly impoverished secondary rainforests is nothing compared to the virgin jungles of Papua New Guinea.

I agree that Singapore has scored a major psychological victory over its neighbours in terms of water sufficiency but it comes at a price – that of greater energy dependency. What use is our newater plant if our energy supplies are cut off?

To say that the West is failing in major international security is to put that responsibility onto their shoulders. Shouldn’t international security be the responsibility of all nations?

It is easy to label the US as incompetent but much more difficult to carry out the duties that it carries. It is easy to indulge in self-belief of progressive competence but more difficult to appreciate the danger of where that progressive competence is leading us to.

Finally, I also agree with him that one of our top priorities is to mend ties with our neighbours. It is a daunting task not dissimilar to Israel seeking acceptance in the midst of an Arab world. I hope we never fail.

Philip Yeo

March 31, 2007

I refer to the series of reports concerning Mr Philip Yeo.

25 Mar 2007, A Star spat: Round 2 by Melissa Sim

The exchanges show two equally strong willed personalities unwilling to lose face over a small matter. Mr Yeo points to all the taxes he has paid since 1970 as a stamp of his authority. I see those as just tip of the iceberg of wealth he has accumulated from the nation all these years. His referral to the invention of TV as one of the many contributions of his generation is mere basking in the limelight of others. Even Mr Sim Wong Hoo has never tried to remind us of his unique gift to this world, why should someone who has never invented anything all his life try to?

The arrogance he finds in his young critics is mere reflection of the arrogance he himself is guilty of. The higher a person rises, the more humble he should try to become.

27 Mar 2007, $228m injection for biomedical research by Tania Tan

Mr Yeo refers to bond breakers as having no sense of value and being worse off than mercenaries. In the case of Mr Chen Jiahao, it was his sense of duty that led him to speak up for his fellow scholarship mates whom he felt were unfairly treated. That sense of duty does not fit Mr Yeo’s description of a person with no value. Furthermore, if Mr Yeo refers to those who forsake his scholarship for some other bigger scholarships as mercenaries, then he is no better than a buyer of mercenary services. Value and a sense of duty cannot be bought with money. The hungrier non-Singaporean is so hungry that he is more than willing to put up with Mr Yeo’s nonsense. If there is any reason why people break away from bondage to Mr Yeo, it is to avoid being enslaved by him rather than to run away from serving the nation.

Crowded at some places, deserted at others

March 28, 2007

I refer to the letter “Crowded at some places, deserted at others” by Lau Chee Kian which appeared on the Straits Times forum on 17 Mar 2007.

Mr Lau feels there is no cause for worry because he can get his fresh air and free space at East Lagoon Food Court, Siglap Centre, Katong Mall and Katong Shopping Centre. So anyone who chooses to get squashed at city centre hot spots like Plaza Singapura and Suntec City have only themselves to blame for not favouring old, out-of-town shopping places where our parents used to go pak tor. It so happens that these are also places less easily accessible by train and more easily accessible by car which could explain why not as many people choose to go there. Mr Lau’s advice to us seems to be that we shouldn’t to go to places we wish to go to but we should instead go to places nobody else wants to go to. But even if we choose to avoid crowded places over weekends, do we also avoid crowded work places just because they are crowded?

Mr Lau seems to think that there are two problems facing our country, one is a falling birthrate and the other is an increasingly ageing population because he says that even if we solve the birthrate problem, we still have the problem of a declining working population and increasingly ageing population.

I believe these are not two problems but the same problem, for if you could arrest the falling birthrate, the population as a whole would not continue to grey. Greying is a natural effect of a maturing population and economy that is not necessarily a bad thing. There is no such thing as an evergreen population for that could only mean the population is growing without end. As an example, suppose there are currently two young to one old. When the old passes on and the two young becomes old, in order to maintaing the same ratio of two working young to one retired old, we would have to have four young workers so the population doubles!

There is a limit to how large a population can grow to and beyond the limitations of what can be supported, quality of life surely has to go down as there are more mouths to feed but not more food. Traditionally, land has been the limitation factor that determines how much food can be grown but the advent of industry and trade allows us to circumvent the limitations of land by importing food. But how much we can import depends in turn on how much we ourselves can produce and sell to the world. While trade and industry contribute much more towards our economy, it again has its limitations.

Perhaps that limitation is best illustrated with an analogy. A company, no matter how meteoric its rise will eventually plateau off and hit lower rates of return. Once this stage is reached, a wise CEO would take his foot off the accelerator to allow the company to consolidate and reap maximum returns. A not so wise CEO would continue to expand the business by pumping good money into additional infrastructure and hiring more people only to find that sales and profit cannot keep up. By the time he realises his folly, he would’ve incurred a huge loss and be forced to downsize eventually. Precisely this happened to Lego in the 90s and I certainly hope it would not happen to Singapore.

Knee jerk

March 27, 2007

Straits Times 24 Mar 2007

Beyond knee-jerk reactions, hard issues remain – Chua Mui Hoong

A common response that Ms Chua gets from folks is “Wah, $2 million, so high, 100 times more than me. Are you saying he’s 100 times better than me?” She feels that sensible people know better – that pay is not a measure of anyone’s worth and that true quality is beyond price.

The notion that pay shouldn’t be a measure of one’s worth is a lofty ideal that is far detached from the real world. I remember a local Chinese newscaster once said on national TV that a person’s career achievement (position and pay) is a measure of the qualities that he posseses that which the society recognises. We would be lying to ourselves if we believed that the world at large behaves in accordance to Ms Chua’s lofty ideal for if it truly did, we wouldn’t find thousands of graduate women unable to find suitable grooms or thousands of lowly educated men having to resort to marrying Vietnamese and mainland Chinese. I am not denying there are those who could see beyond dollars and cents but they are few and far between.

Ms Chua also says that “pay is just the compensation the market gives you for your skills in your lifetime”. If it is the market that determines our pay, then why are we letting our politicians determine their own pay? Where is the market for political compensation so to speak? If by market, we mean political parties like the PAP or the Worker’s Party, then surely our market is being monopolised by one party? We all know how distorted prices become when the market is monopolised by just one party and consumers end up paying more. So where is our antitrust authority to ensure fair play and prevent anti-competitive behaviour? How do we know we’re not being held ransom?

Ms Chua then tries to illustrate how dependent our skillsets are to luck and timing by contrasting the fortunes of a finance professional with that of a Chinese scholar in poetry and calligraphy. The former is having it good right now while the latter can only blame himself for not being born in Tang dynasty China.

So here we are telling ourselves to accept the realities of our choices yet here we are too allowing our elites the luxury of asking themselves how much they would’ve been worth had they chosen a different path altogether. So while our elites have the best of all choices without actually having to choose, the common folk can only blame it on luck, timing or himself for choosing whatever he has chosen. But given the limited choices that this economy presents itself, choices that are largely those of the elites, who can we blame for choosing what little we could choose from? Who can our engineers blame for giving all their lives to the government’s drive for electronics manufacturing only to find themselves jobless and their skill sets useless at the end? Similarly, who can our young, aspiring scientists blame for committing themselves towards the government’s calling for biotechnology should it fail someday?

Ms Chua then dismisses ‘sour grape’ views like “This guy can’t be worth $2 million, he used to work for me / I beat him in a Maths test once in Primary 5 / someone says he’s just average” with the notion that people can and do improve.

But this fails to address the fact that the elite circle is a very exclusive one that a non-elite has almost no chance of stepping into no matter how much the latter improves later on in life.

So far from being knee jerk reactions, the disdain and cynicism the common folks have for ministers’ obscene pay are rooted in thorough understanding of the underlying unfairness.

However Ms Chua said it very well when she said that anyone who feels that $1 million is not enough and wants $2 million before becoming a minister should remain instead in the private sector for the good of the country.

Low Thia Khiang’s suggestion of pegging minister’s pay to 100 times those of the bottom 20% is very sensible as it encourages the ministers to improve the lives of the poor.

Minister’s pay

March 27, 2007

Straits Times, 23 Mar 2007

Ministerial salaries well below benchmark

Our PM says that ministerial salary has to be pegged against those of top professions like bankers, lawyers and accountants because these are alternative professions top civil servants could have had. But what alternative could a vet like Dr Lee Boon Yang have had, had he not become a minister? Could he have become a lawyer or an accountant with his phD in animal science? Which MNC other than those that manufacture pet foods would hire him as a CEO? Therefore, in order to be completely fair, his pay should only be benchmarked against top vets in this country. Having said that, I am of the opinion that Dr Lee is one of the most unassuming ministers we have and the example here merely illustrates the unsound basis for pegging.

While it may be true that our ministers aren’t guaranteed long term jobs since they face elections every five years, it is also true that they have never lost their jobs in all their 42 years in power whereas we have seen CEOs in the private sector like Peter Seah cry on national TV when he was retrenched because it was decided that OUB should merge with UOB. While it may also be true that top civil servants are only given fixed term appointments to a top position, it is also true that many of them step down in style as ambassadors to truly first world countries.

PM on race to attract top talent to civil service – Peh Shing Huei

“Increasingly, the island nation is realising there are few countries it can learn from and no ready models to study.”

Increasingly, people are also realising that when it comes to ground issues like MRT, the government’s favourite model is the world’s most congested trains in Japan. But when it comes to ministerial salaries, it can’t seem to bring itself to model after nations with comparable economic achievements and government ratings like Denmark and Finnland.

“… creativity and innovation are needed to make sure Singaporeans get better paid jobs and the city can bloom in the face of a growing population and economy.”

It was the creativity and innovation of our government that led it to run our economy on the same FDI formula for nearly forty years without ever a thought for nurturing our own technological enterprises. It had to bang its head on the wall before it could see the writing on it but by then it was too late as droves of eletronics firms left enmasse for China leaving thousands of workers and managers jobless in its wake.

It was also their creativity and innovation that saw opportunities in Shin Corp and Suzhou leading to profuse bleeding of our nation’s coffers. Hasn’t there been enough examples to convince our leaders the futility of their business aspirations? A centrally planned economy is not the most ideal in a globalised age and the best our government can do for us is to gradually take a back seat so that the more entrepreneurial private sector can come alive and lead us into the future. All the top nations in the world like Finnland, Switzerland, USA, Japan, Korea and Taiwan have their success firmly rooted in the private sector. The role of their governments is largely confined to providing public essentials like security, education, heath, infrastructure and welfare. Even governments in highly interventionist nations like Japan, Korea and Taiwan only intervened in the early years to nurture fledgling industries. Here, we find our government continuing to wield a tight rein on just about every aspect of our lives, stifling creativity and preventing winners from emerging and it is not hard to understand why.

The examples of Korea, Taiwan and Japan has shown us that when economic success has been attained and the government’s role is gradually decoupled from the economy, its legitimacy starts to fade in the eyes of the people so that government change becomes easier. So our bloated central administration that comes at a very high price to our people, may just be what is required to preserve the political ambitions of some.

What is so creative about growing the economy by growing the population? You merely increase the GDP without increasing the per capita GDP so that the people on average are no better off.

Terms must keep pace with private sector

PM Lee wishes for the public service to be like “Google – an exciting and innovative organisation, with a distinctive and appealing culture. …Google receives 1,300 resumes a day!” There is a basic difference between Google and the public service. Google innovation is about benefiting consumers without emburdening them. Public service innovation on the other hand is about finding all kinds of ways and means to leech on the people – like GST increase, bus fare increase, CPF cut …

PM also stresses the need for his officers to “develop the instincts of the entrepreneur … to seize fleeting opportunities and the boldness to try out new ideas”. I hope he wasn’t referring to opportunities like Shin Corp or Suzhou.

PM spoke about having “abandoned the practice of the iron rice bowl”. I wonder what it was replaced with? A silver dining set pegged against the absolute finest in quality?

PM spoke of unreasonable financial sacrifices to be in the public sector. There are many people who would gladly relieve them of their ‘sacrifices’ much like TT Durai was relieved of his. In his place was found an equally suitable candidate at a much lower cost to the public. Perhaps the civil service can invite bids for its top positions so that the candidate with the lowest bid and who meets all criteria can get to serve.

What a top admin officer gets

A 32 year old officer neither faces elections nor is appointed on fixed terms. He therefore bears no risk of job loss as compared to his counterparts in the private sector. This risk difference has to be factored in when determing his pay. $372,000 is just $28,000 short of George Bush’s salary. Maybe our young officers are benchmarked to take charge of the USA?

Maintaining a first class public service

Singapore always ranks well in terms of lack of corruption. But if by corruption we mean under table money, then how different is that compared to money over the table? If one is theft then is the other daylight robbery?

Illogical not to raise tax during good times

March 24, 2007

When the economy is bad, we are asked to accept wage freeze and cuts in employer’s CPF contributions. But when the economy gets better, we’re asked to accept more taxes in the form of increased GST. Bad times we get pay cut, good times we get taxed more, why are we always at the losing end of the bargain?

Not fattening one’s own pockets

March 24, 2007

Remember what Miss Lee Bee Wah said during Budget 2007 debate about what Singapore politics is not about? Ms Lee was adamant that Singapore’s politics, unlike those of Malaysia, is not about fattening one’s own pockets.

What is the doubling of minister’s pay to $2 million now, Ms Lee?

6.5 million

March 23, 2007

There was a recent discussion on Channel U’s Crossfire programme about Singapore’s imminent population explosion to 6.5 million. The four panelists were MP Josephine Teo, a person called Da Ming, a young professional and a professor.

Increased market size

Da Ming started off by saying the increased maket size from 4.5 million to 6.5 million will immediately benefit the local food and service industries. He gave an example of how difficult it was when he started off as a laser disc producer to even hit a sales figure of 3,000.

There are many ways to increase the market size, increasing the population may not be the best way. The professor illustrated this very well with the example of how if he currently sells 2,000 books, increasing the population from 4.5 million to 6.5 million will not boost his sales to 5,000 books. If his exhibition now draws 100 visitors, increasing the population will not boost the figure to 3,000. As a little red dot on this planet, there can only be that many people we can comfortably squeeze into our tiny island. We should therfore be looking to expand overseas rather than self-implode.

Josephine pointed out that books can be sold online, whereas Yakun cannot sell its coffee online and therefore needs a big enough local market. The professor countered by saying Yakun can and did venture overseas. But Josephine insisted that Yakun had to succeed locally first before it could venture overseas. But the fact that Yakun did succeed goes to show you don’t need 6.5 million to succeed.

Da Ming then claimed that at the very least, 6.5 million allows some local businesses to survive which 4.5 million wouldn’t. You wonder which food / service industry business will suddenly collapse and go bankrupt when the population falls from 6.5 million to 4.5 million. In any case, there are many more millions of tourists arriving each year that ought to more than make up for that coveted 2 million addition to our population.

The prime minister just said last week that the government wouldn’t protect the SMEs for fear of sapping their vitality and dampening their entrepreneurial spirits. So wouldn’t enlarging the local market to benefit the local SMEs do just the opposite of what our PM advised?

Quality of life, infrastructure

The professor also reminded us that a burgeoning population would drastically lower the quality of our lives as traffic congestion would worsen and queues everywhere would get longer. There are already complains about our current public transportation infrastructure, what more with another 2 million people?

But Da Ming is confident that the government will have absolutely no problems handling the additional hardware / facilities / housing requirements for the additional 2 million people.

The professor advised however, that the additional infrastructure isn’t free and comes at a cost that would in all likelihood fall upon the shoulders of the people. The peoples’ lives are already hard enough as they are and shouldn’t be emburdened even more.

Da Ming then conveniently swept away the cost issue with a rather irresponsible, off-the-cuff remark that it only costs $5 per head to build these additional infrastructures. $5 multiplied by 4.5 million people = $22.5 million. What can you build with $22.5 million? One pedestrian overhead bridge?

The young professional pointed out an apparent dilemma Singaporeans are facing. On the one hand, the government is encouraging us to stay with our parents and have more kids but at the same time, flats are getting smaller. With more people living in the same space and a limit to how high buildings can go, surely something has to give and it’ll be what precious little living space we still have.

Josephine pointed out that there is another dimension to quality of life – culture. New York may be crowded but it is also a city of culture. But there are so many sleepy European cities steeped in history and culture but with populations less than 3 million, like Vienna and Helsinki. Culture is the product of a long gestation period of shared experiences that cannot be bought or imported in an instant.

Competition for jobs

The host mentioned about the increased competition for jobs, to which Josephine happily announced that job opportunities have never been better as the government created 173,000 new job opportunities last year against 33,000 new job seekers and 60,000 plus unemployed. This leaves a shortfall of 80,000 workers even if all new job seekers and unemployed took up those jobs.

It’s funny how when the world economy (US in particular) is down and jobs are lost, the government doesn’t say they’ve lost jobs. But when the world economy recovers and jobs return, the government says they’ve created jobs. You must be wondering why if these jobs are so wonderful, 60,000 of us would rather stay unemployed than rush to take them up?

Foreign talent and sense of belonging

Josephine emphasised the need to embrace foreign talents with open arms and give them time to prove themselves. The young professional asked how much time. 10 years, 20 years? Josephine reassured him by saying only proven foreign talents will be given PRs. The young professional then shared how some of his foreigner friends returned home the moment they received their PRs for they now possessed the passport to freely enter the country as and when they please. So proving themselves worthy enough for PR doesn’t necessarily prove their loyalty to this country.

Furthermore, said the young professional, most new immigrants would undoubtedly come from China and India and given the rapidly rising status and prosperity of these two nations, even if we were to embrace them with open arms, it is doubtful they wouldn’t feel more proud of their motherlands now. Japanese wherever they go would always say with pride they are Japanese.

To this, Josephine remarked that Japan is currently facing a declining birthrate and if things were to persist, Japan may one day cease to exist. But can a Japan comprising more foreigners than Japanese still be called Japan? At least Japan has more than 2000 years of history and culture to bind them together. What have we? In fact, the young professional pointed out that it took three generations to create a shared Singapore identity. Opening the flood gates to immigrants would erode this paintstakingly assembled shared identity.

But Josephine is of the opinion that our identity should always be evolving. But evolution is by definition a gradual and natural process. Here, we are artificially and suddenly altering our identity against nature and against evolution.

Josephine shared how her grandma used to tell her aunts not to marry outside their own dialect group. So what is Josephine trying to tell us? That the foreign talents are not merely here to take away our jobs but also our women? And we should encourage them to do so?

Planning, not target

Elsewhere Josephine reiterated that 6.5 million is a planning figure, not a target, as if this figure is so inevitable that we have no choice but to plan for. But is this figure inevitable? Isn’t it ultimately determined by how many citizenships / PRs / work permits the government actually grants? Maybe what she meant was that we’re planning to boost the figure to 6.5 million.

Budget 2007 Essay Competition

March 23, 2007

I refer to extracts from the Budget 2007 Essay Competition, published in the Straits Times on 12th Mar 2007.

Category 1 (TERTIARY), First prize by Mr Cheong Poh Kwan

Mr Cheong wrote of “a need to plant the seed of entrepreneurship in the citizens, so that they will be able to breed strong corporations that can spontaneously respond to changing market trends, instead of blindly flocking to where the government investment vehicles are moving towards.”

Mr Cheong is right in saying that we should not blindly follow the government into money losing investments. Likewise, we should also be careful not to reinforce the government’s fervent drive towards entrepreneurship. While it may be obvious with hindsight, the follies of the earlier government investments, it remains to be seen if our present zeal with entrepreneurship might not turn out equally disappointing. What is important is that we learn the right lessons from present day entrepreneurs.

Bill Gates didn’t write MS DOS out of conviction that it would one day lead to the most successful corporations ever. Steve Jobs didn’t build the Macintosh with the aim of becoming a multi-millionaire. While they are both outstanding entrepreneurs in their own right, they were never motivated by entrepreneurship to begin with. All they did was simply pursue their respective passions to the fullest, and I think that ought to be the lesson to learn from them. If we only see their entrepreneurial outcomes without seeing the sources of their inspirations, we risk imbiding the wrong values in our children and setting them off on the wrong foot. When they’re motivated by money as opposed to passion, they may in all likelihood, not find fulfillment at the end of the day. For the millions and billions that Bill Gates and Steve Jobs amassed are but by-products of their respective pursuits of their dreams and imaginations.

Category 2 (JC, Polytechnics and secondary schools), Second prize by Mr Chew Zhi Wen

Mr Chew wrote “progressive personal income tax affects work incentive, discouraging people from moving into the higher-income brackets”

There is no reason why Mr Jackson Tai, who earns millions from DBS every year should prefer to trade his position with me just because I pay so much less tax. The idea that a person should feel disincentivised from rising through the ranks simply because he doesn’t wish to pay more tax might not manifest itself in real life.

Mr Chew also wrote “Together with an ageing population, the income tax burden will weigh increasingly on the shrinking workforce”

On the contrary, indirect taxes might weigh more heavily on our shrinking workforce than direct taxes would. If I have four parents to feed, lowering my income tax will not help me as much as emburdening me with four times as much GST.

The notion that indirect as opposed to direct taxes better motivate people to work only makes sense if people keep their hard earned money under their pillows and never spend it. What really matters to him at the end of the day, whether he is taxed directly or indirectly, is how much he can afford to buy which is in turn affected by both GST and income tax. An average worker might even find himself worse off for the taxable income may be only 20% of his total income whereas the GST eats sooner of later into his other 80% depending on when he chooses to spend it.

Ironically indirect taxes may indirectly ‘motivate’ the worker to work harder. The GST is like inflation, compelling the average worker to work harder because prices around him have gone up