Sunday, November 09, 2008

ST: Accept sacrifices, cutbacks

From the Straits Times on 8 Nov 2008:

Accept sacrifices, cutbacks

THE Government will ensure no Singaporean falls below the poverty line as a result of the financial crisis but it cannot restore people's living standards to what they were pre-crisis.

Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew gave this assurance today, as he promised measures in next year's Budget to buffer lower-income earners and those without jobs from the impact of higher prices of food and other goods.

He did not provide details but said the Government would need to make a realistic assessment of how much it could afford to give out in additional utilities rebates, Workfare income supplements and other alleviating measures.

Mr Lee was speaking to Tanjong Pagar GRC constituents during an event to mark Tree Planting day.

'We all have to accept some sacrifices and cutbacks,' he said.

'But compared to our counterparts in neighbouring countries, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia, Myanmar, Cambodia and Vietnam, our low income earners are much better off.'

He cited two reasons for confidence in Singapore's economy in the midst of the most severe world recession since the Great Depression.

First, its reserves accumulated over decades could see the country through the crisis without it going broke.

Second, jobs are still available at the two integrated resorts and as a result of investments from high-end manufacturing companies. These include solar cell producer Renewable Energy Corporation and maker of oil and gas equipment, Halliburton.

This is strange. Singapore doesn't have an official poverty line. So, you can't have people falling below the poverty line if you haven't got a poverty line.


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