Govt strategy has never been ‘growth at all costs’

Dear Dr Amy Khor,

I refer to your remarks made in parliament as reported by Straits Times on 20 Jul 2010.

You said the government has never undertaken a ‘growth-at-all-costs’ strategy. But our growth has come at the heavy social cost of sharp rise in housing prices and over crowded trains. These are real costs Singaporeans must bear with. Are you denying those costs? Are you saying the government’s strategy has been ‘growth-at-no-costs’?

You said it doesn’t make sense to slow growth deliberately. But it also doesn’t make sense to deliberately speed up growth to the extent that housing prices shoot up unbearably high and trains get over-crowded. You said 40% of government budget is spent on social sectors. But education takes a large slice of that 40%. Real social welfare expenditure is much less than that. If you want to use percentages as indication of government priorities, then social welfare is definitely not a government priority.

You said government policy has not deliberately favoured the corporate against workers. While that may be arguable, what cannot be denied is that government policy has inadvertently favoured the corporate against workers.

You said corporate profits go to taxes. But taxes in turn go to government coffers and not a small portion of that eventually gets wasted in billion dollar investment losses by the government.

You said inequality is common amongst global cities like Hong Kong and New York. In that case, we would rather not be global but prosperous and egalitarian cities like those in the Scandinavia and Northern Europe.

You said GDP is one of the best gauges of a country’s wealth. While the high GDP of Brunei is indeed an indication of Brunei’s wealth, a large chunk of that wealth belongs to the Sultan himself. So having a high GDP doesn’t necessarily mean that the people are rich.

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