Photo of Tharman from The Straits Times

In his interview with state propaganda publication NTUC This Week, Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) Tharman Shanmugaratnam claimed that unlike other developed countries, low income workers in Singapore are seeing as much income growth as the average:

“So we are quite unusual amongst countries that are the same league as us, because both the average and lower income workers are seeing continued income growth.”

The DPM made the baseless claim without providing statistics and avoided highlighting that the wages of the bottom 20% earn less than half that of a worker in developed countries. In Singapore, a cleaner earn about S$5.50 an hour inclusive of CPF – less than a third of a Minimum Wage earner in Australia or half of a Minimum Wage earner in US.

Minister Tharman also avoided mentioning the country’s adverse income gap, with a GINI coefficient of 0.458 and ranked the second-worst among the OECD countries.

Read: Singapore’s income inequality among the worst in the world

The S$1.87 million-a-year Minister also said that Singaporeans have to “deepen” their skills and “spur innovation” to earn more:

“Like other developed economies, Singapore has a slow domestic sector where workers earn less, as well as a bigger and more outward-focused sector where workers tend to earn more. The challenge is to ensure that a large part of the economy does not get stuck on low gear, because then overall wages will see little growth. Singapore’s basic economic challenge is to sustain income growth for the average worker, and for lower-income workers. To do that, Singapore has to deepen our skills, spur innovation in every industry, and move beyond what is currently a two-speed economy.”

Minister Tharman also called for Singapore employers to pay more for workers’ training and that it is “the management’s responsibility”.