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Thursday, 3 March 2011

Election Watch Part VII - Chilli Crab Recipe Tailored For Cooking Productivity

In my posting on Feb 24 on the Election Budget 2011, I expressed my reservation how the Govt. can increase personal income by 30% over the next 10 years, even in my capacity as a working PMET. I am not seeing income being increased to cover inflationary figures for the last few years, not to say cover further increase due to productivity.

My reservation is mooted by my own experience in the construction industry, having worked as a professional quantity surveyor for more than 23 years and gone through multi-miilion mega-sized private and public projects. Over all these years, I have seen how my own profession has "evolved", if not "eroded"; with the bringing of "foreign talents" while pay was marginalised. It is also the sector which is still most reliant on foreign labour. But most of all it is because "productivity" is an abstract word, people often look at its costs of implementation first, before looking at its fruits, and calling it off.

The Govt announced in Parliament that nearly half of the $1 billion in productivity fund had been disbursed, a year since a raft of measures were taken to cure the economy's Achilles Heel. The construction indutsry is one of the 12 sectors chosen to benefit from the National Productivity Fund. Together with the Retail, Electronics and F and B sectors, the Govt had given its nod for these 4 sectors which account for a quarter of our total GDP and one third of our country's workforce.

DPM Teo Chee Hian reported in Parliament that productivity rose by 10.7% last year on the back of our stellar economic recovery. WOW so "impressive, spectacular and easy" that it makes the 2%~3% annual productivity target Singapore is driving look ridiculously low, silly but easy to achieve. But honestly from my own heart, not a drip from this normous fund has touched my heart to see anything optimistic to link it for a pay increase.

Yardstick #1
Half of S$ one billion has been disbursed and if the construction industry has taken a quarter of that, I have not yet seen where it is buttered to make this industry look more productive. Personally, I do not see my job as a PMET in this industry as honourable a job to ever dream to command the same pay as the profession in the highly profiled case of Dr Susan Lim, less to say of our world-class politicians.

What measures have visibly been taken with half of the
National Productivity Fund already disbursed?

Yardstick #2
Next, is my personal yardstick for assessing productivity on our public service. Several months back, I had written this letter of complaint to one of our highest public office about the lack of responsibility and poor service provided by one of the lower governmental body. Months passed but it is still not given a deserving coherent reply, although the responsible party had written to push away his responsibility. I believe it must have ended up as a successful  "covering-up" attempt, well known since my own NS days.

Just by using these 2 yardsticks, I am already confused how productivity could have risen 10.7% as cited in Parliament and would continue to rise further, with half a dosage of the National Productivity Fund as initial medicine for our "low" productivity when most are already working the longest working hours in the world. Are you frustrated now to hear DPM Teo again asking for a pay increase for the public sector, after this year's budget had allowed a 30% increase in the estimated salary for political appointments, because this is a result of GDP linked bonus payments which include Ministers and was due to last year's "exceptionally high" GDP growth?

Next in last year's Budget, S$4 billion was borrowed from our  RESERVES to save jobs and keep us STAY EMPLOYED. Plus half of S$ 1 billion to bring us 10.7% productivity. So why does the Govt not just lend and rolled out the same $4 billion from the reserves for another year and then release the the balance of $1 billion National Productivity Fund for another year to realise another year of 10.7% productivity growth and the same low unemployment?

By now many must have read or heard about SM Goh's "Chilli Crab" recipe for giving Singaporeans a chance to vote for a "good candidate" from a "good party" because "it is the quality of candidates and the reputation of the political party that counts in an Election". While we may contend whether to vote for "No Sign Board" or "Big Sign Board" chilli crabs, his "recipe" still does not ensure that good policies would be crafted and implemented by our expensive political and civil service machinery.

As the PAP and Opposition members “crossed swords” on TV, the Reform Party Chief had claimed that "the Govt had plagiarised its stance on productivity”.

PAP MP Indranee Rajah rebutted by saying “I thought that back in the ‘70s, we had launched the productivity movement; we had the productivity and standards board. That was something like a good 30 years or more ago … before the RP came up with its recent statement.” Well said, but why had that productivity movement been stopped, and if not; why has it failed to deliver in the hands of the PAP Govt? That we now have to catch up annual productivity by 2~3% in order to increase real income by 30% over the next 10 years, what had our Govt been doing?

With nearly half the National Productivity Fund disbursed, are we still "muddling through" what "productivity" really is? Will increasing annual productivity by 2~3% really help to increase our pay by 30% in ten years? Certainly not optimistic as I see it. But we have just heard that the civil service will get 30% more bonus for last year's spectacular economic performance. If the construction indutsry has contributed towards that, I am not even seeing a direct link to a jump in my own salary. Perhaps, what we really need to know and do is to "re-engineer" our own "profession" like turning the medical profession into a subcontracting business in the construction industry to claim the highest fees in the world as in the "SMC vs Dr Susan Lim" case, and in this; we certainly would need a "Chilli Crab Recipe Tailored For Cooking Productivity". And this is sad as for a country or even just a city.

Meanwhile, would you like to "join me" to appreciate this simple home-cooked  HAIRY CRAB meal which costed me RMB 25 or S$5.00 for this portion?

Home Cooked Hairy Crab Meal !
Reference # 01
TODAY 28 Feb 2011
PAP, Opposition members cross swords on TV

Reference # 02

TODAY 28 Feb 2011

Quality of candidates is what matters: SM Goh

Reference # 03

TODAY 3 Mar 2011
DPM Teo on salary issue

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