According to Minister for Finance Heng Swee Keat, the Oxfam report that ranked Singapore 149 out of 157 countries based on its efforts to reduce inequality, was based on a “completely wrong analysis”.
At an annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank on Friday, October 12, Mr Heng told reporters that he was “very disappointed” to read the report and that it “erroneously” measured performance by how much the Government is spending on education and healthcare.
At the event, Mr Heng also told reporters, “What really matters to our people is the outcome, the health outcome, the educational outcome and those are fairly objective measures. So it is important for us to focus on outcome and not get misled by input measure”.
The Oxfam report attributed the low rankings to Singapore’s “harmful tax practices”, and its “relatively low level of public social spending” in areas such as education and healthcare. Singapore’s lack of a minimum wage also played a part in the ranking, it added.
With regards to Singapore’s top ranking in the Human Capital Index, Mr Heng said that he is “glad” Singapore has ” done well”, but reminded Singaporeans that they “must not “rest on (their) laurels”.
“We must continue to upgrade… I hope that Singaporeans will feel confident that, indeed, this system has served them well,” he added.
Mr Heng also said that Singapore is happy to share the lessons that it has learned in achieving better outcomes.
“For many developing countries… since resources are limited, it is very important that we can achieve good outcomes with the required inputs, and not to wrongly measure inputs and then treat it as outcome,” he added. “I mean, that’s a completely wrong analysis.”