Photo of Professor Lim Chong Yah from World Scientific Publishing

Economist and 29-year-long former chairman of the National Wage Council (NWC) Professor Lim Chong Yah today (June 10) openly criticised the CPF retirement annuity payout as meaningless:

“It’s still too early. I am still contemplating, studying the best possible option, being quite unhappy that the annuities are still very, very low for a large number of people. They can be just quite meaningless.”

On censorship, the Professor also recounted that in his CPF retirement research report, he was once called up by one of the government ministers and advised not to publish his findings:

“Yes, I couldn’t understand it myself. Why one minister rung me up and said it’s better not to publish the report. I couldn’t understand… It’s an enigma! I do not know. A complete misunderstanding, or maybe ultra-sensitivity? I am not so sure.”

Professor Lim Chong Yah then slammed the growing income inequality and called for a Minimum Wage:

“My intention is to have growth with equity, which is to have inclusive growth. In technical terms, the Gini coefficient, which is used to measure income inequality, should not be allowed to deteriorate too much. So at that point in time, when I raised that issue, it was deteriorating to a fairly uncomfortable level.”

The 84-year-old former NWC chairman also criticised the existing administration for being lax on raising wages for the low income:

“That is the problem. The problem of implementation. The compliance rate is very low. That’s why I came up with the minimum wage proposal.”

The professor also highlighted that paying top executives too much result in a trickle-down effect, leaving nothing left for the low income workers:

“Yes. There is this concern that if you leave market forces to handle top executive pay, you may, in the long run, end up in a spiralling effect on the economy, making ourselves uncompetitive. One leads to the other. If the top executive pay is so much, S$3 million, he finds it difficult not to pay his number 2, number 3, and there is that escalation tendency that might lead the economy in the long run, to go into the region of being uncompetitive, like in many developed countries. My first preoccupation is we must have the ability to compete in the global economy.”

You may read the full interview here.