Updated: 05/28/2014 02:30

Ensure social spending remains sustainable



Ensure social spending remains sustainable

Even as social safety nets are strengthened and social spending stepped up, MP for Moulmein-Kallang GRC, Edwin Tong, says it is critical to strike the right balance,
and ensure social spending is sustainable in the long-term. 

Speaking in Parliament on Tuesday, Mr Tong says while it can be tempting to dip into a higher proportion of reserves to fund social programmes, this can have devastating effects on the long-term good of the country. 

"We only have to look at the recent experiences of some countries in Europe, like Greece, Portugal, Spain and Ireland. These nations are now saddled with large unsustainable debts and enormous deficits following years of popular government spend on social programs."

He also highlighted examples of well-intentioned schemes that became significant liabilities for generations to come - like Medicare in the United States, which went from a US$12 billion program to almost US$550 billion in 2012. 

Or the National Health System in the United Kingdom. 

Mr Tong adds that social programs should remain anchored on principles that incentivise work, and reward productivity and improvement. 

"I am sure we all want the low income worker to be paid higher wages. But should that also be the case if there is no increase in productivity, or where there is absolutely no skills upgrading? We would, in truth, be selling ourselves short if we did."

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