SINGAPORE: Workers’ Party MP Jamus Lim (Sengkang GRC) wrote in a Saturday morning (Sept 23) Facebook post that high living costs are a recurrent “cause of concern and frustration” for residents he talks to while carrying out house visits.
He said that two people in particular “shared intriguing thoughts along these lines”, including one man who is married to a Chinese national who “observed that despite the fact that China having a much lower levels of per capita income, one would never be forced to scrounge for a living.”
Assoc Prof Lim explained that this man “candidly spoke about how disappointed about trying to eke out a living here,” even though he had been born and raised in Singapore and wants to stay in the country.
The MP wrote that he was not certain whether what the man said about not needing to scrounge for a living in China was true or not since “there are parts of rural China where poverty bites more acutely.”
“But I would venture that—for many Singaporeans who are relatively lower income (and even those who may appear to be more comfortable)—the higher costs for food, transport, and housing add up quickly, and end up eating away much of that income differential. This leaving many feeling like they are only earning more on paper, but they continue to struggle to make ends meet otherwise,” added the MP, who teaches Economics at ESSEC Business School.
The other conversation centred around the prices of necessities having risen faster than inflation statistics say, with wages not increasing at a comparable rate. It gave the example of mee goreng now costing S$7.
“There’s some nuance to this. Inflation, of course, is measured over all goods; it’s not uncommon to feel like the cost of everything is rising, even as we sometimes forget that some things have not changed in price. And wages have indeed grown to at least match higher prices (last year, after adjusting for inflation, salaries rose by 0.4 percent).
But this feels like a step backward, not least because real wage increases have been pretty solid in prior years. And of course, some industries may still have lagging wage adjustments,” he added.
Assoc Prof Lim underlined that many people find coping with higher costs challenging, and workers perceive it unfair when businesses that see record profits keep raising prices.
“This is even more so when those companies provide government-linked public services, like buses or post. The #workersparty will continue to probe these issues in Parliament,” he wrote. /TISG