One of the boldest and most penetrating commentaries I have ever read on the Singapore economy, by Devadas Krishnadas, a recognised thought leader in strategy as well as public and economic policy. His writings have been published in local and regional newspapers such as The Straits Times, The Asian Wall Street Journal, China News Daily and the South China Morning Post. I am an admirer of his concise, sharp yet elegant writing style.
The Straits Times
Published Sep 2, 2016
Wages have risen ahead of productivity growth and the gap needs closing quickly to avert a recession.
Economists at Credit Suisse have concluded that Singapore’s competitiveness has deteriorated in recent years. They attribute this to three causes – elevated wages, negative inflation and a dependency on exports.
The erosion of competitiveness is not a trivial matter ; rather, it is an existential consideration. The high level of services, infrastructure and even security that Singaporeans have enjoyed in recent decades and to some degree have come to accept as a norm are all contingent on economic prosperity. In other words, it has to be paid for on a continuing basis and doing so is dependent on a thriving economy.
But even more than this, there is the social consideration which hinges on the premise of an expanding economy. Without a healthy economy, we will not produce enough jobs to absorb each new generation of workers. The workers that are employed will not have adequate professional space in which to deepen their skills and enlarge their exposure to new experiences and challenges.
There is also the danger of economic exclusion if there is a concentration of under- employment or unemployment among certain ethnicities or socioeconomic or other groups, due to lagging educational levels. History and the present day are littered with examples of the social and political dangers of economic exclusion.
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