Scandinavia-style welfare not for Singapore

Welfare has been treated like a dirty word in Singapore – and rightly so, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
Singapore provides a strong social safety net, but will not go down the Scandinavian welfares route, he said, dismissing a suggestion by some MPS.
The Scandinavian welfare system will not work here because the countries of Denmark, Finland and Norway are very different from Singapore, he argued.
“They are homogenous societies, so their people, their cohesion are much stronger, top and bottom, you stay together, you help one another. They are monolingual, non-English-speaking, less likely to migrate if the pressure is on them,” he added.
Also, the Scandinavian countries are rich in natural resources. Denmark and Norway have oil and Finland has timber.
They have a large and wealthy European continent as their hinterland.
The Scandinavians are also not dependent on multinational investments, unlike Singapore. In addition, they have higher taxes: their equivalent of goods and services tax is at 25 percent and personal income tax is up to 60 percent.
About one-third of the people are employed by the government. Still, unemployment is 8 percent in Finland compared to Singapore‘s which is below 3 percent.
Nor was it “nirvana” in Scandinavia: They had a long period of decline in the 1990s and over the last decade, their average growth has been slower than Europe‘s, Mr Lee pointed out.
“We cannot follow the Scandinavian model. We are Singaporean, we are in the middle of South-East Asia, we’re English-speaking, multiracial, completely open to the world,” he said.
If Singapore tried to follow the high-tax regime of Scandinavia,, able Singaporeans will leave, as will other talent, and “no investments will come”.

-The Straits Times

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