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Singapore’s economic boom widens income gap

This is an extract of a report from Reuters.

By Melanie Lee

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Carol John, 27, doesn't own a bed. Every night she sleeps on thin mattresses which she shares with her three young children. Outside her one-room flat, a smell of sewage lingers in the common corridor.

Just a few kilometers away, on Singapore's Sentosa island, Madhupati Singhania relaxes on his $435,000 yacht berthed at the city-state's swanky One 15 Marina Club.

Income inequality is nothing new in free-market Singapore, but two years of blistering economic growth and a government policy of attracting wealthy expatriates have created a new class of super-rich, while a string of price increases for everything from bread to bus fares have made life harder for the poor.

"I can't save anything, it's so difficult for me," John told Reuters. John, who is unemployed, relies on her husband's S$600 (US$420) monthly salary and a S$100 government handout.

"We don't benefit at all from the economy. As far as I know, my husband's pay hasn't gone up," she said.

Singapore's economy is firing on all cylinders, with a booming construction sector, record tourist arrivals and a fast-growing financial sector all contributing to a gross domestic product set to grow nearly 8 percent in 2007.

But the rising tide is not lifting every boat.

The proportion of Singapore residents earning less than S$1,000 ($690) a month rose to 18 percent last year, from 16 percent in 2002, central bank data released late last month show.

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