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Why is transparency of statistics so important?

There are quite a number of statistics which are either not available, or are not broken down to give more transparency to issues like the electricity tariff, unemployment, healthcare and CPF.

Electricity Tariff

The contracts between the suppliers of natural gas and power generation companies are confidential.

Thus, it is almost impossible to do any independent analysis as to whether electricity profits are excessive, vis-à-vis the peg of the electricity tariff to fuel oil prices.

In this connection, as discussed in the article “Will we have a smaller electricity bill?” (theonlinecitizen, May 24), changing of the formula as to how the tariff is priced, may be just one piece of the “electricity tariff” puzzle.

Unemployment

Despite repeated calls every once in a while, in newspaper forums or internet blogs, there is still no break-down of the unemployment statistics into Singaporeans and permanent residents (PRs).

For example, the non-seasonally adjusted resident unemployment rate was 3.1 per cent, and the number of unemployed residents on a seasonally adjusted basis was 66,300, as of March.

If PRs constitute about 20 per cent of the resident work force, and say the breakdown of unemployment is 90 per cent citizens and 10 per cent PRs, then the unemployment for Singaporeans may be proportionately more than that of PRs.

Integrated Resorts (IR) employment

Recently, it was disclosed in Parliament, that the two integrated resorts now employ some 16,000 workers, with local hires accounting for 70 per cent.

How many of the 70 per cent locals, are Singaporeans?

How many of the permanent residents (PRs) were until recently foreigners?

Healthcare

If you are a Singaporean hospitalized in a Class C ward, you will see in your hospitalization bill, that you were given a 80 per cent subsidy.

So, does the hospital receive this 80 per cent subsidy?

Not really, because Hospitals and Community Hospitals receive funding based on a complicated system of average costs depending on the number of patients for each and every different type of illness or procedure, and also on a needs basis arbitrarily determined by the Ministry of Health.

Therefore, without transparency, as to the funding for each hospital relative to their costs, we may safely say that nobody knows for sure, what is the “subsidy” that Singaporeans are getting?

The above gives you some idea, as to why hospitals may be trying so hard to get more patients to opt for non-subsidised care, promoting health services to foreign patients who can pay more than costs so that a profit can be made, medical staff raising funds to help poor patients like those in polyclinics who cannot pay but cannot be covered by Medifund, etc?  What is the Medifund rejection rate based on patients, instead of applications?  How many people do not have any kind of medical insurance at all?

Central Provident Fund (CPF)

I understand that most of the CPF projections as to how much CPF funds Singaporeans will have at age 55 and beyond, are based on active CPF account holders.

How many active and inactive CPF members are there?

What is the defination of “active”?

With regards to CPF Life, will there be an independent report available to the public, so that the assumptions and methodology for life expectancy, beneficiary payouts under the different plans, expenses, use of funds, etc, can be subject to public review and scrutiny?

By Leong Sze Hian