Member of Parliament for MacPherson Tin Pei Ling took to Facebook to clarify a remark she made during her speech on the Fortitude Budget, regarding the amount of Covid-19 relief received by Singaporeans.
During the debate in Parliament on June 4, Tin rose to speak. In making a point about how much the government is helping Singaporeans and local businesses, Tin said she did a "back-of-the-envelope estimation" of economic relief per capita.
Tin said, in a Facebook post that reproduced her speech:
"If we look at the relief per citizen or PR, Singapore tops the chart at S$23,225 per capita. Japan is next at S$21,355 per capita. The United States – world superpower, world largest economy and worst hit by the pandemic – is 3rd at S$12,765 per capita.
[note: to standardise for comparisons, I took the entire package value of each country divided by its citizen population size to estimate the budgetary support per capita]"
The current amount of monetary support for Covid-19 relief, both for individuals, SMEs and other businesses, stands at S$92.9 billion.
Tin added that these figures are "coarse estimations" taking into account direct and indirect support, but gives a good sense of the government's determination in supporting Singapore through the crisis.
Commenters questioned the figure
However, some Facebook commenters pointed out that such a calculation may not be the best representation of the monetary relief received by each citizen.
In response to one commenter, who asked Tin to elaborate on how she arrived at this figure, she said her approach was included in her Facebook post, however it was a "rough estimate" meant to illustrate the government's determination to combat the pandemic. She added:
"My intention is to show, compared to other countries including advanced economies, how much budgetary support Singapore government has put in to help Singaporeans and Singapore tide through this crisis.
To make the comparisons, we cannot look at the total package value alone because country sizes are different. Hence, to standardise for comparison, I took the entire package value divided by citizen population size. This is the same concept as GDP per Capita."
Not about calculating cash payments
In addition to that comment, Tin added another, longer comment to her post, reproduced entirely below:
"I note there are quite a few reactions to the figure estimated and thought I will clarify it here. I can understand why you reacted this way. My intention is to show, compared to other countries including advanced economies, how much budgetary support Singapore government has put in to help Singaporeans and Singapore tide through this crisis. It is not to diminish the pain Singaporeans endure; I have met and spoken to many residents and shared real examples of my residents' hardships in my speech.
To make the comparisons, we cannot look at the total package value alone because country sizes are different. Hence, to standardise for comparison, I took the entire package value divided by citizen population size. This is the same concept as GDP per Capita.
I had set out how I calculated in my post clearly. Of course, this calculation is only a rough estimate meant to illustrate how determined the Singapore government is in combating the pandemic.
So, my point was not about calculating cash payments, if so, we cannot use an averaging method because different people would receive different cash amounts depending on their profiles and circumstances. My point was to compare the strength of support given by Singapore government with other countries. And that the government has been able to do so, without taking loans, because our pioneer generations worked hard to put away some savings and past and present governments have been prudent in managing our reserves over >50 years.
We all hope that the crisis can be over soon and that everyone can rebound from this soon."
You can see her post below:Top image from CNA.