Greater political judgement in policy-making needed: Inderjit Singh on CareShield Life

3966
Photo: YouTube screengrab

Former People’s Action Party (PAP) Member of Parliament (MP) Inderjit Singh expressed some of his views on pertinent questions raised about government-run scheme CareShield Life.

In a Facebook post yesterday evening, Mr Singh answered questions related to what the possible reactions were for the intense public reaction to the Careshield Life premiums, as compared to other gender-differentiated policies, the reasons behind why these economic or seemingly rational explanations do not seem to satisfy certain groups among the public, compelling reasons (if any) for making the Careshield premiums gender-neutral and possible ways the government could have handled this situation better.

Mr Singh’s post received 224 reactions and almost a hundred shares.

When asked about his thoughts on why economic or seemingly rational explanations do not seem to satisfy certain groups among the public, Mr Singh replied that the rationales were actuarially fair, but that “Since this scheme will be run by the government, and not a private insurance company, there are some perception problems”.

He also added that “Some people are unhappy that this being a compulsory scheme is being is following market principles strictly, and that there must be some concessions made for a compulsory scheme”.

Mr Singh also added that the CareShield Life premiums should be made gender neutral with the government providing some of these services to the public at concessions. He also said that some services should be provided at a subsidy because citizens are already contributing to government revenues in many other ways.

He was asked by the media to also suggest two possible ways the government could have handled the CareShield Life situation better.

To this, Mr Singh suggested that it would have been better to Show Singaporeans what the actual cost of coverage is and then decide to have a permanent citizens subsidy; one that is below the actual cost with women getting a higher subsidy.

He also added that the government could have just averaged the cost of the genders and come up with one premium for both genders – for men slightly higher than what has been announced and for women slightly lower. He explained that this would have completely avoided the debate for a scheme that may actually be a very useful one for everyone in the future.

Mr Singh also added, “Bottom-line is leaders should exercise greater political judgement in policy-making. The civil servants have presented to the political leaders a logical scheme based on what a market driven approach would look like. But the government is not a company and we cannot apply what may seem logical in a market driven system to policies affecting the lives of citizens the government was elected to serve”.

On the issue of teachers having to pay for their parking in schools, Mr Singh also said, “the idea is logical, to have a clean wage system and the charges teachers have to pay are close to the market rates. But in reality, schools are not public car parks, so market rates should not apply.”

“I guess this government works on pragmatism more than politics but sometimes when it is the time to convince the public to buy-into a national scheme or idea, some political acumen never hurts.”

Netizens who commented on his post all agreed that his comments were fair and well thought-out. They also added that the points he articulated were indeed accurate sentiments of Singaporeans.

________________________________________________________________________

obbana@theindependent.sg