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Source: Channel News Asia.

PM Lee gives comment on positive World Bank’s report on SG but remains mum on negative Oxfam’s report

At the Human Capital Summit dialogue in Bali yesterday (11 Oct), PM Lee said Singapore must continue to evolve its policies in education and healthcare even as the country topped global rankings which cover these areas. He said that despite the progress made in these fields, “the job is never done” as new expectations and new challenges will develop. This was reported on CNA.

PM Lee was making a comment after World Bank released its Human Capital Index showing that Singapore topped the Index out of 157 countries.

The rankings, based on health, education and survivability measures, assess the future productivity and earnings potential for citizens of the World Bank's member nations, and ultimately those countries' potential economic growth.

PM highlighted that while Singapore has a good education system, there is still scope to improve pre-school levels.

In healthcare, he said Singapore is looking to boost step-down care facilities, as some of the country’s older generation may be unwell, but they do not require intensive medical treatment.

"We've got old folks in their 70s and 80s who are learning to dance ballet and doing not badly, and they're much healthier and happier for it," he said.

However, CNA did not report anything about any comments made by PM Lee with regard to the more negative Oxfam's report on Singapore.

Singapore ranks at bottom 10 in Commitment to Reducing Inequality (CRI) Index 

On Tue (9 Oct), Oxfam ranked Singapore at the bottom 10 (149th) out of the 157 countries in the Commitment to Reducing Inequality (CRI) Index 2018. The index reflects the commitment in each country to address the rich and poor gap in their country.

Singapore was ranked below countries like Myanmar (138th), Timor-Leste (132nd) and Vietnam (99th).

"It (Singapore) has increased its personal income tax (PIT) by 2 per cent, but the maximum rate remains very low at 22 per cent for the highest earners,” the Oxfam report said.

Singapore’s low score is also due to a relatively low level of public social spending, Oxfam said, adding that only 39 per cent of the national budget goes to education, health and social protection.

In the health component of Human Capital Index, even though World Bank has rated Singapore high based on adult survival rates as well as healthy growth among children under the age of five, it came at a terrible cost to Singaporeans, as mentioned by Oxfam.

Singapore government spent much less in healthcare as a percentage of total health expenses when compared to OECD countries. The majority of the cost is paid for by Singaporeans themselves.

In 2013, after netizens on social media pointed out that the Singapore government's share of healthcare spending had been minuscule languishing at 30+ per cent when OECD countries were spending like 70-80 per cent on average, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong finally relented and announced to increase Govt's spending as a percentage of total health expenses to a tinge higher at 40%.

This is of course, still significantly lower than the OECD's average of 70-80 per cent and confirms that Singaporeans are actually the ones footing the majority of the healthcare expenses.

Of course, in Bali yesterday, PM Lee would probably be too shameful to mention this.