As Singapore steps into the prosperity of modern society, we recognise increasingly that our prosperity and success isn’t about us as individuals but something we need to develop as a society. And that is driving the whole Forward SG exercise: the idea around reworking our social compact. Prime Minister Wong declared, “Here I have a plea to all: For a new definition of success to become a reality, all of us – as consumers – must be willing to bear a higher cost for the goods and services we consume. We must recognise the important work that our fellow citizens undertake to keep our society going, and do our part to uplift and boost their wage prospects.”
For this plea to work, it is not just about consumers and cultural mindset changes, the whole economic engine of the government including our policies on trade and industry. Essentially, our government needs to develop new ways to think about inflation: that it may be part of the consequences of uplifting the wages of our fellow Singaporeans and tradesmen. And the mechanisms around public sector procurement might need to change too if the PM himself is suggesting that consumers must be willing to bear higher cost?
We all are consumers, taxpayers, employers or employees somehow; the whole economy works such that we have these overlapping roles and what we fail to spend through consumerism, can be spent by the government through taxation. If the government genuinely wants to uphold certain principles of social distribution, it would be really hard to do so by moral suasion and avoid damaging the pro-growth stance.