Photo of MAS Ravi Menon from Bloomberg

The managing director of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), Ravi Menon, yesterday (Jan 22) said in a speech that Singaporeans who have no degree qualifications will need to “professionalise” if they want to have a higher pay like their counterparts in Australia, UK and US:

“For examples in four occupations: Childcare worker, baker, security guard and plasterer. Compare the wages of these jobs across four countries — Singapore, Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom (UK). In Singapore, the typical pay for these occupations is between 30 and 60 per cent of the median wage. In the other three countries, however, it is much closer to the local median wages. For instance, a baker in Australia earns 141 per cent of the country’s median wage. In comparison, bakers here earn 49 per cent of the Republic’s median wage. Similarly, a security guard here earns 59 per cent of the median wage, but in the UK, this goes up to 90 per cent. There is scope to further professionalise these jobs in Singapore. In particular, to increase the skills content, leverage on technology, and improve business processes, and raise the quality of output.”

The ruling party elite then made a baseless claim saying that bank tellers, hairdressers, vehicle mechanics and bus drivers are now earning more due to the “professionalisation effort”, and did not explain further. Bus drivers in Australia earn about S$60,000 a year, while Singapore bus drivers earn about S$24,000 a year. It is unknown where Ravi Menon get his statistics to claim that the four professions in Singapore have reached the wage level of those in Australia, US or UK.

Ravi Menon also complained about the low birth rate, saying that it is affecting the country’s GDP and provided no solution:

“The underlying demographic slowdown is so severe that it is neither feasible nor desirable to try to completely offset it through immigration or foreign workers. It is not a numbers game but about rejuvenation and expanding talent base. a recovery in Singapore’s total fertility rate (TFR) as the best and most lasting solution that we can have. However, the resulting effects on the labour force will only occur in the very long run.”

The MAS head also waxed lyrical about making compromises in regards to immigration, GDP growth and foreign labour influx, again, without providing any insight or solution. Repeating what PM Lee Hsien Loong said earlier last year, Ravi Menon called for Singapore enterprises to venture overseas and “internationalise”, again, without explanation how.

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