Which country in the world arguably needs a Basic Income most?
Singapore, because she has the highest reserves per capita in the world, is in the top five for per capita income in the world, the fifth most expensive city in the world (The Economist) – and yet Singapore has no minimum wage, the greatest inequality amongst developed countries (Gini coefficient before government transfers), the biggest wage gap between the top and bottom percentiles, the lowest social welfare spending among developed countries, most expensive public housing in the world (price to income ratio), highest national pension contribution rates in the world (typically up to 37 percent of income), one of the most expensive electricity, water, public transport, public universities’ tuition fees, etc, in the world.
In addition to the above, Singapore has a unique fiscal policy (from a cash flow perspective) of limited spending on the nation’s pension scheme, public housing, and healthcare. However, the annual inflows exceed the outflows in each of these three areas, currently and historically.
Some recent statistics (April 2022) demonstrate that 10 percent of households cannot pay their water bills (media reports), and 10 percent of households do not have enough money to eat nutritionally (2019 pre-Covid-19, SMU-Lien Foundation Hunger Report 2019), etc.
So, perhaps in the final analysis – without Basic Income – many Singaporeans may have to continue to struggle to make ends meet. At the same time, Singapore has one of the highest per-capita suicide rates in the world, in spite of it being a criminal offense to attempt to try to kill oneself!
Singapore’s Reserves are estimated to be $1.97 trillion. If this is the case, perhaps it is time Singapore considers a basic income and shares this wealth with the people.
Written by: Leong Sze Hian