Thursday, 25 February 2010

Of budgets, keys and the cost of living

The Singapore budget was announced yesterday. Sophisticated phrases were used and tax benefits were expounded upon by the Finance Minister.

The ordinary Singaporean, like the common citizen in any country, does not involve herself with the finer points of tax breaks or government subsidies. Typically, the ordinary person is concerned with bread and butter issues and how to stretch the Dollar in her pocket.
The lure of Malaysia in stretching the Singapore Dollar is strong. So much so, that the Singapore authorities recently allowed Medisave funds to be used at designated hospitals in Malaysia. A wise policy shift which gives greater flexibility to individuals in seeking the best value for money.
In fact, many Singaporeans travel to Malaysia regularly to shop for their daily goods. Given the prevailing exchange rate and the cost of goods in Malaysia it is not surprising.
The following table outlining the cost of preparing a duplicate key illustrates why Singaporeans save a dollar or two by driving across the causeway.
Cost of preparing a duplicate key in various cities
London                  8.98
Paris                     5.69
Hong Kong             2.83
Jakarta                  2.52
Bangkok                2.28
Singapore              2.15
Kuala Lumpur         0.75
All prices in US Dollars based on January 20, 2010 exchange rates
Source: Wall Street Journal
Yearly budgets, the consumer price index, the producer price index, annualized GDP growth, and non-oil domestic exports are important numbers but it's the impact on the wallet which 'humanizes' such data.
The 'aunties' and 'uncles' working in food courts understand inflation and GDP growth numbers in a way many politicians cannot.

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