Voices Of Youth

Social spending well debated in Singapore

I agree with The Straits Times editorial about how outcomes are the true markers of success in the battle against inequality (Fighting inequality: Focus on outcomes; Oct 15).

I struggle to understand the purpose of an "inequality action plan" as mentioned in the recent Oxfam report. Furthermore, the Commitment to Reducing Inequality Index 2018 did not substantiate how Singapore is unable to manage the social issues of rape, pay discrimination and sexual harassment.

The report attributes Singapore's low score to its relatively low level of public social spending - only 39 per cent of the Budget goes to education, health and social protection combined.

The international community would do well to note that public social spending in Singapore is heavily debated on multiple levels in the Government and that the Minister for Finance has to explain every decision made during the annual Budget debate. This is something not every country has done or is able to do.

Singapore also has to balance different priorities, such as national security or restructuring the economy, as well as tackling inequality. We simply cannot afford to raise taxes injudiciously or focus on populist methods of redistribution of wealth and punitive taxation to tackle inequality for fear of disrupting a rapidly growing economy.

Leroy Cheong Kai Thong, 15

Secondary 3 student

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 24, 2018, with the headline 'Social spending well debated in S'pore'. Print Edition | Subscribe