The Straits Times
Published on Feb 07, 2013

Inflation doesn't lead to better quality of life


THE strata of Singaporeans most affected by the effects of inflation are not those who flock to condominium show-flats and travel fairs ("High cost of living comes with good quality of life" by Miss Tan Lin Neo; Monday).

For the relatively well-to-do, inflation is like a ringing at the back of the head - irritating and possibly a cause for concern, but never disabling as it invariably is for those who struggle to put food on the table or for newlyweds who need to shoulder a mountain of debt for a small matrimonial home.

Even in a "First World country with a good quality of life", income and purchasing power are not shared equally by all.

Life is hard enough as it is without falling real incomes, dwindling bank accounts and worries about the future. If not for ourselves, we should be worried, as a nation state, for our countrymen who, by one way or another, end up less fortunate than the rest.

And although the cost of living does rise as the standard of living goes up, inflation should not be mistakenly considered a precursor to a better quality of life; it is more accurately baggage that we have to carry as we progress, and it should rightfully be beaten down once it rears its ugly head.

For the record, the cost of living is also a relative concept, dependent on wages and the cost of basic necessities.

I suspect that Miss Tan, in comparing costs between countries, does so from her own perspective, without taking into consideration the effects of the exchange rate or variations between the costs of different kinds of goods. The relationship between living costs and development will likely be less pronounced than imagined.

Ngia Jin Wei