"Sun, Feb 13, 2011 AsiaOne - Be realistic about Budget goodies
Singapore recorded high economic growth in 2010, and there are people who expect that this year's Budget will have many handouts for Singaporeans.
However, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said in a speech yesterday that people should have 'realistic' expectations of the Budget. The Government always has to save some money in preparation for rainy days, he said at a Chinese New Year gathering in his consistuency, Pasir-Ris-Punggol GRC.
DPM Teo however assured that the Government would share the fruits of the nation's growth with Singaporeans, particularly among the low-income and senior citizens.
He also urged Singaporeans to look at the track record of the People's Action Party (PAP) since the last elections in 2006, and to consider if candidates can be trusted to serve not just the individual voters, but the whole country."
Singapore is unique in many ways. One of which is the way the government runs the country like a corporation. While some management gurus or experts recognized the needs to consider profit and loss and growth, it is also important to take care of the intangible stuffs like People's Aspirations and Morales, etc... Hence, they coined words like: Balance Scorecard!!
Lessons for me are:
1. a nation is not a pure for-profit organization. Measuring the progress the country only on the $ and Cents will breed loop-sided behaviors by the participants who will 'game' the targets and get rewarded. On the economy side, no one with an objective mind can fault the government of Singapore nor begruded the multi-millon dollars pay they rewarded themselves;
2. on the intangible side, we are not there. In fact, the greatest leader of all, MM Lee himself conceded that he will not see 'gracefulness in Singaporeans' before his lifetime. The cabinet also FAILED to get Singaporeans to re-produce sufficiently to replace themselves despite dangling all kinds of incentives. These issues deal with human being as human being and not machines or equipments or things where expediency and efficiency can work. Dealing with human means the need to invest more time and effort to build relationship, connect and build trust, listen and act, etc. We are perhpas not so good here. Maybe we choose the easy way out - which is to focus on the economic numbers and reward ourselves based on that achievement alone!;
3. every thinking Singaporean will know that the greatest policy and habit of prudent financial planning is to: save for the rainy days. While DPM Teo is trying to share the obvious, some may not appreciate it. This is especially so when the PM and Finance Minister said this year budget is going to be good and with goodies for the lower-income and the disadvantaged. Its like talking from both sides of the same mouth. Perhaps stressing the prudent practice of 'saving for the rainy days' will suffice without telling 'you need to be realistic!'.
This is a General Election year. Like any other strewed policitian, the government in power will sweeten the pot a little. When expectations were raised, perhaps his 'gentle' reminder may not placard the voters from being disappointed if the budget did missed their expectations.
A no-win situation?