Work Smarter NOT HarderPublished: 26th January 2010
“It is not a matter of working harder or longer. This country was built on the back of the hard work of its citizens. Singaporeans already work some of the longest hours in the world, up to a third more than workers in the US and 50% more than European workers.
“The problem is that our productivity growth has been so low. The Reform Party has been drawing attention to the productivity gap for some time now.
“Productivity figures for 2000-2008 show that our real GDP per hour worked only grew by 1.1% p.a. whereas the figures for South Korea were 4.2%, the US and Japan 2.0%, the UK 1.7% and Sweden 1.8%. All these countries except for South Korea had much higher levels of real GDP per hour worked to start with so the gap widened considerably over this period.”
The Reform Party refers to the ST report dated 25th January 2010, “Work smarter, harder to sustain growth: SM” as well as the ST Online report of the same date, “Focus on productivity: PM”. We are delighted that the government has adopted one of the core messages of the Reform Party: that boosting economic growth artificially through a massive influx of foreign workers has done very little to improve the welfare of ordinary Singaporeans. In the absence of a minimum wage, it has led to falling real incomes for the bottom 40% of the working population. We believe the key to higher living standards is through higher productivity and we have said it as recently as three days ago and repeatedly over the last 9 months.
At the Reform Party education seminar on Saturday 23rd January we pointed out that 80% of economic growth over the last ten years appears to have been generated purely by increasing the workforce and specifically I said, “.Singaporeans are working longer and harder for less wealth.”
In the marketplace the common message is, “work smarter NOT harder for greater effectiveness.” We disagree with subverting this message to a vision of Singaporeans needing to work, ‘smarter, harder to sustain growth’. Growth to benefit whom and to what end?
It is not a matter of working harder or longer. This country was built on the back of the hard work of its citizens. Singaporeans already work some of the longest hours in the world, up to a third more than workers in the US and 50% more than European workers.
The problem is that our productivity growth has been so low. The Reform Party has been drawing attention to the productivity gap for some time now. Productivity figures for 2000-2008 show that our real GDP per hour worked only grew by 1.1% p.a. whereas the figures for South Korea were 4.2%, the US and Japan 2.0%, the UK 1.7% and Sweden 1.8%. All these countries except for South Korea had much higher levels of real GDP per hour worked to start with so the gap widened considerably over this period.
Nevertheless The Reform Party hails SM Goh’s statement. It marks a watershed in Singapore whereby the public can see an opposition party highlighting problems, scrutinizing issues and putting forward policies that are then adopted by the government. This shows how credible the Reform Party is that our message is taken up by the government and repeated almost word for word.
We look forward to the day when the government adopts some of our other key proposals vital to greater productivity such as a minimum wage and increased investment in education.
The Reform Party on record
January 23rd 2010.
Reform Party seminar on education
“in his opening speech, RP’s Secretary General Mr Kenneth Jeyaretnam remarked that Singapore’s current economic growth is due to the expansion of workforce instead of higher productivity. In fact, real incomes for Singaporeans have stagnated for the last 10 years. Singaporeans are working longer and harder for less wealth.
Kenneth proposed GDP per person or GDP per hour worked as new key performance indicators”
By Donaldson Tan, The online citizen (my emphasis)
January 21st 2010
101 East – Calling Singapore Home – Part 1
“The rationale for the loose immigration policy is that it is a very easy way of boosting GDP growth without having to worry about productivity. We should have a minimum wage to force employers to use labour more efficiently.” Kenneth Jeyaretnam. Al Jazeera TV. 5:29 secs
January 18th 2010
Wall Street Journal
Immigration “kept our economic growth high but, at a tremendous cost,” says Kenneth Jeyaretnam, the secretary-general of Singapore’s Reform Party
5th December 2009.
Reform Party Economic Seminar,
“Ultimately Singaporean living standards can only rise if we increase the productivity of Singaporean workers”
“Companies have no incentive to raise productivity when they can bring in foreign workers at lower wage rates than they are currently paying their Singapore workforce”
7th December 2009
“Mr. Kenneth Jeyaretnam started with the discussion of starting a minimum wage policy. He said that real earnings for less-skilled workers are falling because of competition from foreign workers.”
By Amanda Lian,Temasek Review
28th November 2009:
Address to the Jurong Rotary Club
“In recent years our GDP growth rate has been high but this has mainly been achieved by adding more inputs of capital and labour (from abroad) rather than by raising productivity which stagnated in 2007 and declined sharply in 2008 and 2009.”
By Kenneth Jeyaretnam
29th October 2009
‘The New Economic Strategy Committee Shares Reform Party Vision’
9th August 2009
Reform Party’s National Day 2009 Speech
We all know the present economic model is not achieving prosperity for the majority of ordinary Singaporeans. Since 2008 Singapore has been in recession and GDP has been declining. Our productivity has also been declining for some time and without higher productivity we will not achieve higher living standards.”
By Kenneth Jeyaretnam
21st September 2009
SMU Peace forum
“So what to do? Well actually there are well established steps that governments can take to bring about a feeling of security amongst its peoples. Job protections, universal free and compulsory education, higher university fees for overseas students who have not done NS and whose parents have not paid taxes here, and a minimum wage.”
18th May 2009:
Reform Party’s response to the President’s address
“…the converse is that despite Singapore’s high growth rates between 2003 and 2007 this boom largely passed ordinary Singaporeans by. Instead it was evidenced by the growing numbers of foreign workers (which put pressure on the incomes of lower-skilled Singaporeans and led to falling productivity)…”
April 11th 2009
TOC Interview: by Darren Boon, Kenneth Jeyaretnam’s debut
“However, he tells TOC: “Generally I think that the government focuses too much on GDP growth for its own sake where it should be focusing on things like GDP growth per capita and the incomes of ordinary Singaporeans.”
Released by Kenneth Jeyaretnam on behalf of the Reform Party, January 25th 2010