Some 9,990 Workers Laid Off in 2011, Says S’pore MOM Report

SINGAPORE, April 26 (Bernama)

Amid more moderate economic growth, layoffs of workers increased slightly in 2011, pulled up by a rise in the fourth quarter of the year.

Against a larger employment base, the overall incidence of redundancy in 2011 continued to decline to a new low. Meanwhile, the rate of re-entry into employment improved for the second successive year.

These are the key findings from the “Redundancy And Reentry Into Employment, 2011” report released by the Ministry of Manpower’s Research and Statistics Department here today.

In the whole of 2011, some 9,990 workers were made redundant, up slightly from 9,800 in 2010.

This translated to 5.5 workers made redundant for every 1,000 employees in 2011, down from 5.7 in 2010.

Workers from the manufacturing sector remained the most vulnerable to redundancy, with 11 workers made redundant for every 1,000 in 2011.

This was significantly more than in services (3.8 per 1,000) and construction (4.2 per 1,000).

With a decline in layoffs in construction from 1,350 in 2010 to 1,050 in 2011, its share of redundancy fell from 14 per cent to 11 per cent.

Manufacturing’s share dipped slightly from 46 per cent to 45 per cent, with a marginal decline in workers affected from 4,490 to 4,460.

Reflecting their growing share of the workforce, layoffs in services increased from 3,960 or 40 per cent of workers made redundant in 2010 to 4,430 or 44 per cent in 2011.

Layoffs fell for clerical, sales & service and production & related workers but rose for professionals, managers, executives & technicians (PMETs).

While the share of redundancy taken by production & related workers declined from 50 per cent to 48 per cent over the year, they were still the highest among the three broad occupational groups.

They remained more vulnerable with 7.3 workers made redundant among every 1,000 workers, compared with 5.5 among PMETs and 2.6 among clerical, sales & service workers.

PMETs accounted for 42 per cent or 4,170 of the workers displaced, while the remaining 11 per cent or 1,080 were clerical, sales & service workers.

While layoffs increased slightly over the year for both residents and nonresidents, the increase was smaller for residents (1.3 per cent) than non-residents (2.9 per cent).

Consequently, the residents’ share of redundancy fell over the year by 0.4 percentage point to 57.4 per cent in 2011.

This was lower than the residents’ share of the workforce at 67.2 per cent in 2011.

Restructuring of business processes for greater efficiency (34 per cent) and high labour cost (30 per cent) were the top two reasons for redundancy.

They were followed by reorganisation of businesses and high operating cost excluding labour cost (each around 25 per cent).

Oops, The Economy Broke: Reasons for Singapore’s Inflation Scare

By Ryan Ong

25 April 2012, Wednesday

Yahoo! Finance

Did you have breakfast this morning? I sure as hell didn’t. Or rather I did, but then I read the news and upchucked four hot cakes from sheer shock. The consumer price index was at 5.2% in March, and may hit 6%. Our inflation’s growing faster than my waistline, and I’m Singapore’s most popular model…for the “Before” pictures in weight loss ads. But what’s causing our economy to bloat like Steven Segal after 40? Read on and find out:

How Bad Is Our Inflation?

The consumer price index (CPI) checks the price difference of a market basket of goods over time. So a CPI of 5.2% suggests, in a very simplified way, that most of what you buy will cost 5.2% more.

Unless you’ve gotten a matching raise in your pay, it means you now have less money. And apart from everything costing more, the inflation eats into your bank savings. Your bank’s interest rate(even for fixed and structured deposits) are nowhere near the 5.2% inflation. So if you have a savings deposit, you may as well lock your money in a room with a lighter and an arsonist.

The CPF may also lose its efficacy as a retirement fund. The CPF interest rate is 2.5%, and theinflation rate is 5.2%. As a retirement provision, that’s about as effective as a paper umbrella in a tsunami. But of course, the government will take action to rectify this soon.

Right? 

Hello, government? Is anyone awake in there? Because we need to fix the reasons. Like the…

1. Insane COE Prices

As of April 18, COEs for larger cars hit $91,000. Reuters pointed out that a Toyota Vios, which cost $77,000 at the start of the year, now costs $107,000 (including COE). That same amount could land you a Porsche in some parts of Europe (and a complimentary AK-47 in Russia, because YOU try owning a Porsche in St. Petersburg).

Come August, the government also intends to drop the vehicle quota to 0.5%. This will raise COE premiums even higher; presumably, it’ll match the admissions rate of hysterically giggling car buyers at IMH. Because the bad news is, there will always be situations when a car is necessary; no matter the price. Certain lines of work, along with family requirements, will continue to pressure people into buying cars.

And because the COE is an unavoidable, artificial addition to price (increasing price without adding real value), it’s a major contributor to inflation.

2. Overheated Property Market

Nice try with the new measures, HDB. Sadly, chucking an ice cube at Fukushima would have been a stronger cooling measure.

The ABSD has dissuaded foreign buyers, but it’s channelled demand into the rental market. Foreigners are now pushing rental income to new heights, and that’s led to property speculation (shoebox flats anyone?) Likewise, the cash over valuation (COV) of resale flats is now less realistic than Transformers 2.

And have you seen Sky Habitat?  The property developers forgot to include a disclaimer. Something like:

“Please note that your purchase signifies market collapse, uncontrolled inflation, impaired judgement, or all of the above”.

There has also been news of HDB flats reaching the $900,000 mark, and even heartland homes aren’t the low-cost bulwarks they used to be. Until some control is placed on COV, and further cooling measures kick in, housing’s going to keep raising our cost of living.

3. Higher Transport Costs

Government policies have made cars unaffordable, while raising public transport costs. It’s like the person-in-charge Googled: “Inflation and How to Cause It”, and started taking notes.

SBS is already intending to pay bus drivers 16% more, which should raise transport fares. Part of the reason is to, you know, cope with inflation. Then there was Comfort and it’s minions other cab companies; they raised fares as well. To cope with inflation.

Now, take a step back and reread those reasons. Do you see a problem here?

Transport companies are coping with inflation by…contributing to said inflation. That’s like trying to solve groin pain by having doctors take turns kicking you in the nuts.

But hey, at least higher transport costs have had benefits. Like making the MRT more reliable, or making bus captains more polite. And I’m totally not being sarcastic there.

4. Rising Food Prices

Singapore imports a lot of food. Look at our land space; if we planted one shoot of kang kong it would die of claustrophobia. But in particular, the global recession and rising cost of fuel (which affects the import cost of foodstuffs) take a lot of blame.

Where local policies contribute is property. As rent rises, so too do food prices. Supermarkets need to charge more to maintain inventory, and hawkers need to pay their stall rent. The practice of subletting hawker stalls is especially problematic: That’s when a stall holder pays maybe $700 a month for the stall, but charges someone $2000 a month to operate it. Wave at Holland Village, people.

As it is, restaurants need as much reason to raise prices as North Korea needs to launch a missile. But the rental market is heating up, and landlords are basically sharks with legs. As surrounding rents go up, they’ll try to match it, which prompts F&B tenants to skyrocket prices.

5. Absurd Optimism

Inflation seems to be getting worse because of our laid back attitude. We’re taking little action because we can’t seem to acknowledge how bad it is. Here’s a quote from Channel NewsAsia:

However, analysts said Singapore’s inflation rate is not a cause for alarm as the government had already warned that price gains would be steeper in the first half of this year.”

By contrast, that’s like saying you don’t have to be alarmed that your car is going off a bridge, so long as the screaming passengers in the back “already warned” you. Early warning doesn’t mean we shouldn’t freak out.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) will probably allow the Singapore dollar to appreciate, as a way to combat inflation. This is effective as a stopgap measure, but it doesn’t address deeper flaws in the system.

Another problem is MAS’ method of measuring core inflation: It excludes housing and private transport. Since these are are a major cause of inflation, the method results in optimistic numbers and homeless Singaporeans. It’s like getting lung cancer, but having the doctor congratulate you because hey, apart from your lungs, you’re fine.

MAS is expected to take corrective action in October. But the immediate solution seems to be crossing our fingers really hard. Let’s all sit back and think happy thoughts, and pretend inaction isn’t part of the problem.

Asia can strive for ethical wealth creation

Beware hubris in Asian triumphalism, says Ho Kwon Ping in this speech delivered last Friday at the Pan IIT (Indian Institutes of Technology) Asia Pacific Conference.

Straits Times: Review | April 12, 2012
THE theme of this conference is entitled Reading The Signposts Of A Changing Landscape. For Asian triumphalists, this is easy: The words on all the signposts are big and clear, and point to a happy posterity.

I’m not so sure.

Not only is the wording on many signposts confused, but also many signposts themselves have not even been erected. And quite a few of them point towards dead-end solutions or quick-sand futures. My biggest fear is that in the rush towards the exuberant expectation that Asia’s time has finally come, we will fall victim to the biggest reason for failure in the history of the world: simple hubris.

The rise of Asia is not predetermined, just as the dominance of Western civilisation for the past few hundred years was not preordained. The rise of European imperialism and then American hegemony was not simply due to economic power backed by military might. It was underpinned by innovative, even revolutionary thinking about the primacy of the rule of law, the separation of church and state, the commitment to an empirical, scientific worldview, and all the institutions which brought about the modern state built on liberal democracy and market capitalism.

Much of the intellectual vigour which propelled the West to supremacy is now spent. In its place is frustration that the old order is not working, but with no clear vision as to what the new order should be.

So is it now Asia’s time to rise to the occasion and in the intellectual vacuum, offer new solutions to bankrupt thinking? Or are we not even capable of the necessary creative destruction of our own taboos and restrictive mindsets, which hobbled us for past centuries and which we need to cast off if we are to lead the future? How is our current economic growth matched by equally vigorous intellectual innovation?

Let us look at the regional landscape.

India for example has managed, despite numerous daunting challenges, to remain the world’s largest practising democracy. But the continuing clash and contradictions between tradition and modernity render Indian political and social relations almost dysfunctional. And while Indian pride in its scientific, artistic and business achievements is fully justified, the continuing inability to lift millions of people out of abject poverty remains a sobering and hopefully not insurmountable challenge.

China, the other great and ancient civilisation of Asia, is today slated to be the second most powerful economy in the world. Its government has, unlike India, lifted its teeming masses from abject poverty. Private capitalism thrives alongside the more dominant state capitalism. But the absence of a dynamic civil society – unlike in India – and its opaque political structure are becoming glaring and, worse, possibly unsustainable.

India suffers from a lack of political consensus; China has too much of it. India has a surfeit of democracy and a deficit of economic equality; China has eradicated poverty but suppressed democracy.

Indian thought leaders realise that democracy has not reduced inequality nor improved the lives of the overwhelming majority of Indians. Chinese intellectuals recognise that the current, systemic problems of political governance, glossed over by rapid economic growth, are unsustainable and brittle. But both don’t know how to really move forward beyond recognition of the need for drastic reform. Intellectual innovation and political power are simply not integrated.

Japan’s social cohesion stands in stark contrast against China and India, but that same homogeneity and social conservatism have left it stranded in genteel decline, with no new thinking to break Japan out of its stifling insularity.

South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore are probably the best examples of societies which grew rapidly due to what political scientists call ‘developmental authoritarianism’ and have successfully transited to liberal democracy. But their models of development are not easily transplanted to larger, more diverse societies.

South-east Asia has largely recovered from the debilitating financial crisis in the late 1990s which nearly crippled its private sector and brought down its banks. But internal contradictions remain unresolved in Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia and are, arguably, growing steadily.

Fortunately, Asia as a whole is not likely to experience its equivalent of an Arab Spring, largely because rapid economic growth has papered over the social fissures which burst open in Arab society.

My intention is not to denigrate the very real achievements of an ascendant Asian civilisation. But neither can I accept the facile self-congratulations of the Asian triumphalists who seem to think that our success in this century is now inevitable. There is much to do, for all of us who believe fervently that Asia’s time has come but that we cannot afford to be complacent. Asia requires profoundly different and diverse, innovative thought leadership if its economic rise is to result in a sustainable, new paradigm for civilisational progress.

In particular, Asia needs to inculcate a virtuous cycle whereby business, political and social leaders all interact to create new norms of economic, social and political behaviour as well as values. Simply following what used to work in the West is no roadmap for future success.

One good example is the dire need of a replacement for the highly individualistic, American form of capitalism which, at its best, enormously rewarded risk-taking, but at its worst, created monstrous inequalities based on speculative gambling of other people’s money. Capitalism is not universally identical; it is shaped by history and culture, resulting in, for example, the Scandinavian variant or the German model. The American model may not be broken, but after the debacle of the past few years, Asia should not blindly adopt it.

As Asia’s economies continue their dynamic growth, we need to delve into our own history and culture for inspiration in creating an Asian variant of capitalism. One such source can be the webs of mu-tual obligations which serve as a common, recurring socio-ethical tradition of Asia. This communitarian characteristic of Asian culture can, if thoughtfully enhanced, nurtured and developed, replace the highly individualistic, Darwinian ethos of American capitalism.

Communitarian capitalism can be an Asian form of ethical wealth creation, where the interests of the community of stakeholders in an enterprise – the owners, the employees, customers and suppliers – and of course the larger community would be a higher consideration than simply return on capital.
In other words, communitarian capitalism would be stakeholder-driven and not simply shareholder-driven.

One of the contradictions of globalisation is the starkly worsening income inequalities across the world, and particularly in Asia. As members of the Asian business elite, we have a choice to either be part of the solution or part of the problem. There is no middle way; no waffling position where we claim credit for generating growth but deny responsibility for the contradictions of growth. This waffle unfortunately is what most Asian business leaders are doing today; hiding their heads under the sand – or figuratively, a fine layer of gold – and thinking that if they simply stick to what they are good at doing – creating and consuming wealth – they are part of the invisible hand of productive capitalism. But that is just not good enough because, as we have seen, unfettered capitalism is not an absolute good, and often businessmen deepen its imperfections.

On the more positive side, history has seen how many institutions we take for granted today as part of a modern and progressive society, such as liberal democracy or universal suffrage, arose out of the demands of a rising business class – the bourgeoisie. Asia’s rising middle class needs to play the same historic role as their counterparts in Europe several hundred years ago.

Thought leadership need not be in grandiose or visionary ideas but can be small, practical solutions to real problems. For example, as a tiny country, Singapore has no pretensions of being a global thought leader. We have simply and quietly created solutions to our own unique set of changing circumstances. But along the way, our successful experiments have been watched by many far larger societies.

Singapore’s approach to social security and public housing, launched many decades ago, has been universally hailed as revolutionary. In the field of sustainable resource management for cities, Singapore is probably one of the leading examples in the world. In social engineering of public behaviour for the common good such as punitive pricing for traffic congestion, or a ban on smoking in public areas, some of our experiments were once viewed sceptically – even ridiculed – in the Western world but are now widely replicated in some of these societies.

Across Asia, there are many more examples of innovative, inspiring thought leadership covering a wide spectrum of fields. But it is not enough. We need some fundamental paradigm shifts in mindsets, particularly about political and business governance, if Asia is to achieve its future. The blank signposts lie at our feet. It is now our job to write messages, and point them in the right direction. Generations after us will either blame or thank us for what we do or, more disappointingly, choose not to do.

The writer is chairman of the board of trustees of Singapore Management University and executive chairman of Banyan Tree Holdings.

What Teens Worry About: Drugs, Sex and … Future Salaries?a

TIME

By Dan Kadlec

You might think teens have it easy. But they worry about a lot: bullying, getting into college, fitting in, finding a date. Now add earning enough money to the list.

Just 56% of teens aged 14-18 believe they will be as well off financially as their parents, according to a Junior Achievement and Allstate Foundation survey. So much for the optimism of youth. That’s down from 89% in the same survey one year earlier. In another major shift, the survey found that teens are pushing back the age at which they expect to be financially independent; more now say they will be at least 25 years old before they are on their own, compared to 20 in the earlier sample.

What gives? According to USA Today, there is a cumulative effect after so many years of recession and slow growth. Teens have seen family and friends lose jobs and homes; they can’t help but feel vulnerable. The paper reports:

“Many kids were shielded by parents during the downturn, says Rob Callender, director of insights at youth research firm TRU. Moms and dads would do without to avoid taking things away from the kids. As finances dwindled, though, those parents have been forced to level with the kids about their economic reality.”

Teens have also had trouble finding summer jobs, though prospects are better this year. And teens report getting fewer money lessons in school. According to the JA poll, just 24% say teachers instruct them about how to manage money, down from 58% a year earlier. This jibes with a report from the Council for Economic Education, which found that fewer states are requiring schools to test in the area of economics and to offer a personal finance course.

Teens may also be suffering from what many adults acknowledge: parents are horrible role models when it comes to things like saving and budgets. Only half of parents regularly set aside money to save; only 43% set financial goals; and only 24% take specific steps to diversify their investments, according to a T. Rowe Price Parents, Kids and Moneysurvey.

In the JA survey, teens reported a significant drop in parents saving as a result of the recession—21% this year vs. 59% last year. As you might expect, teens are modeling that behavior. Just 56% plan to save some of their income, down from 89% a year ago, according to JA. It’s not just a plan; it’s happening, according to the Pew Research Center, which found that young adults are getting a slower start saving for retirement.

It should come as no surprise then that fewer teens are practicing sound money management skills. JA found a three-fold increase in teens that report not budgeting. This largely confirms a separate survey by Schwab, which found a sharp fall off in teen money management ability. According to that survey, just a quarter of 18-year-olds know how to manage a credit card—down from two-thirds. Less than half know how to check the accuracy of a bank statement—down from 60%.

This all represents a huge setback in the push for a more financially literate population, which many see as our best hope for staving off another financial crisis. In this environment, debilitating teen money myths are sure to persist. Here is how you can do something about it.

Spiritual Thoughts

No, this isn’t a post to advocate or instill any dogmatic religious thoughts and ideas into you. It’s more of being aware of your surrounding and things.

Watch the 2 video links below, hope this liven your mood and also, make you feel more aware of the things around you! 😀

Have fun! (:

J.Lo

Information Videos

Hello, all! Been missing in action for quite a bit, due to the recent Common Tests and what-not’s.

Well, we are back online! And this time, I would like to share with you some videos that would be useful to you.

I have classified them into categories, for easy referencing. So sit back and enjoy! 😀

Advertising & Consumer Psychology:

Social Networking & Its Impact on the World:
3.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iG8KaWxr2gs&feature=related (This one is on the Digital Life: Today & Tomorrow)
5.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jp_oyHY5bug&feature=related (This one is a bit of a mix classification.)

Economics:

Water & Poverty:
You may share your thoughts with us, by adding a comment! Have an awesome week ahead! (:
J.Lo

India taken off WHO polio list in major milestone

25th February 2012

India was taken off a list of polio endemic countries by the World Health Organisation on Saturday, marking a massive victory for health workers battling the crippling disease.

“This gives us hope that we can finally eradicate polio not only from India but from the face of the earth,” Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said.

The announcement leaves just three countries with endemic polio — Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria.

India, which last reported a fresh polio case more than 12 months ago, now will have to remain polio free for the next two years to be judged to have eradicated the disease, WHO representative in India Natela Menabde said.

“The government of India has coordinated a massive effort to rid our country of the terrible scourge of polio that has scarred the lives of thousands of thousand of children in India,” Singh told a polio summit in New Delhi.

But “the real credit” for India’s success in tackling polio goes to the volunteers who repeatedly vaccinated children, he said.

They visited slums and railway stations, construction sites and bus stops, using all means of transport to reach even the most far-flung corners of one of the world’s most crowded and impoverished countries.

The success of the effort shows that “team work pays,” Singh said.

Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said he received a letter stating that the “WHO has taken India’s name off the list of polio endemic countries in view of the remarkable progress that we have made during the past one year.”

Polio — which afflicts mainly the under-fives causing death, paralysis and crippled limbs — travels easily across borders and is transmitted via the fecal matter of victims.

India has been a frequent exporter to other developing countries, but has also been re-infected from abroad. The ancient disease was wiped out from the 1970s in developed countries through successful vaccination campaigns.

In 2009, India accounted for half of all cases in the world, but infections plummeted to 42 in 2010 and none in the last 12 months.

The Indian government has spent $2 billion over the last 10-15 years on polio eradication efforts.

Singapore’s inflation at 8-month low

23 February 2012

Singapore: Singapore’s headline inflation rate in January rose 4.8% year-on-year, easing from the 5.5% on-year rise in December 2011, thanks to lower contribution from private transport cost.

The 4.8% rise in the consumer price index (CPI) was the lowest year-on-year increase since May.

However core inflation – which excludes accommodation and private road transport – rose to a three-year high of 3.5%.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) warned inflation will likely remain elevated in coming months.

Analysts say this indicates inflation remains a concern and that monetary authorities are likely to keep policy tight.

Taking away rentals from owner-occupied accommodation (OOA), inflation was 3.5%, according to numbers released by the Singapore Department of Statistics on Thursday.

OOA cost can be removed from calculating headline inflation as it has no impact on the cash expenditure of most households in Singapore as they already own their homes, said the agency.

Housing costs remained a big driver of inflation, up 9.5 per cent from last January. Food prices rose 3.8% from last January, while healthcare costs rose 3.2%. The recreation and others component saw a 3.5 per cent increase.

– CNA/ir/ck

Budget 2012 Plants Seeds for Stronger Social Development: Halimah

SINGAPORE: Singapore Minister of State for Community Development, Youth and Sports Halimah Yacob has described Budget 2012 as one that plants the seeds for stronger social development in Singapore.

Speaking on the sidelines of a community event, she said the Budget measures will ensure continued social mobility because of investments in the low-income group, those with special needs, and the elderly.

Madam Halimah noted that the investments in the elderly are important.

She said: “Not just because we feel compassion, but because then it releases the young people who are working, struggling to take care of their frail, elderly parents, it releases them to focus on their work, and therefore to be productive, to be creative.”

On feedback over the lack of specific measures for middle-income households, Madam Halimah said these families can benefit through higher subsidies in education and healthcare.

She added that the Budget is one that balances social development with economic growth.

She said: “I’m really glad that this Budget focuses a lot on social development, and I think without compromising economic development. Because at the basis, what is fundamental is that there must be growth. Then we will have enough resources to invest in social development. I think this [represents] planting the seeds for stronger social development in Singapore.”

-CNA/ac

Feedback on Budget 2012 Largely Positive

SINGAPORE: The feedback on Singapore’s Budget 2012 has been largely positive based on early input received by the government’s portal, REACH.

Its chairman, Dr Amy Khor, told Channel NewsAsia on the sidelines of a community event on Sunday morning that many welcomed the measures to help the needy and to enable companies to employ more Singaporeans.

Residents of Hong Kah North marked Total Defence Day as part of efforts to build a more cohesive society.

Mayor of South West District Dr Khor used the occasion to remind them of the need to build a stronger and more inclusive Singapore as outlined in the Budget Statement unveiled by Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam on February 17

She said it will help manage key challenges like slower economic growth, income inequality and the ageing population.

Dr Khor said: “It is also a budget with a heart because it has got targeted schemes to help the elderly, low income and disabled, as well as local companies to help them restructure. It has got stepped-up efforts to give social support assurance to the vulnerable groups, like the elderly, the low income and the disabled. This budget will give them a leg up to help them cope with the challenges and pressures ahead, as well as to help them to benefit and participate in the growth of Singapore.

She said the most-hotly debated issue was the package of social assistance initiatives.

About 40 per cent of contributors discussed the issue, especially on the new GST Voucher to help the needy offset their Goods and Services Tax, as well as the higher Central Provident Fund contribution rate for older workers.
Dr Khor said some suggested that the higher CPF contribution rate be extended to those who are older than 65.

This was followed by measures to help in the restructuring of the economy with about 30 per cent of contributors discussing the issue.

Dr Khor said: “Some of the concerns that they have raised are with regards to worries about higher business such as possible higher business costs and access to labour because of the current tight labour condition. While they welcome the reduction in foreign dependency ratio, the worry is whether the SMEs are able to get the manpower they need.”

Singaporeans can continue to share their views with REACH through a Facebook chat on February 26 from 7.30pm to 9pm and a roving exhibition at the Raffles Place lawn on February 23 and 24.

– CNA/fa