SingapoRediscover Vouchers. Boredom Buster or Funny Money?

Fellow Singaporeans. I have willingly destroyed my usual sleep cycle to cover yet another “brilliant idea” from the Ministry of Trade & Industry, in association with the Singapore Tourism Board. If you are 18 & over & have registration in the ubiquitous municipal app “SingPass”, you get $100 credit that is to be used for “Leisure attractions & Holiday Stays”.

If these were normal times, I’d cry out this act as an act of bribing people with a piece of their taxes. But these are not normal times indeed. It has been MONTHS since we have been forced into this new normal of mask-wearing, swathes of properties closed en masse for health reasons & Commercial Jetliners stuck in eternal maintenance/storage. So, to the meat of it… Why did they think this is a good idea & is it really ?

A part of me wants to say “Hm… how nice. I could use this when I’m free.” On Top of the $100, you can apparently buy tickets at six separate instances & tours at a $10 discount from December to next June. It seems that tours also apply to those under 18. Chan Chun Sing commented that it is meant to spread the demand over the usual timings when people go off for holiday.

I was looking forward to a small trip overseas to Osaka during January, when this year didn’t melt my head like cheese in the form of exquisitely unusual cabin fever. In the sense that I had exposure to society in large, but less enough to drive me mad. Plus, this credit could convince people to spend a little bit extra, which would help the tourism services like lodgings, F&B establishments & tourism spots survive longer, already hooked on life support in the form of several tax incentives.

But, the other part of me reeled in anger from this bit from Chun Sing’s statement: “The initiative is not a social assistance scheme, this is an economic scheme to help our tourist attractions…” Pardon me Minister , but exactly why didn’t you go with a social assistance scheme instead ? Hell, why wasn’t it the first response right after the “Circuit breaker” ended & it was apparent that normalization is not fully feasible ? You mean to tell me that you are spending $365 million dollars to subsidize something that the affluent-enough middle class could do if it wasn’t for the economic depression that coincided with this pandemic ?!

$365 million. That is money better spent on food for people who are living paycheck to paycheck, or not even a paycheck at all ! Or slightly larger dorms for low wage migrant workers which won’t flare up re-infection of the coronavirus. Hell, maybe get those “Flights to nowhere” a reality by using it to subsidize Singapore Airlines. These ideas may not be as detailed or concise as the idea Mr Chan is trying to pitch… But they’re equally feasible when you’re spending THREE HUNDRED AND SIXTY FIVE MILLION DOLLARS.

Between you and me, I would’ve preferred the $100 in the form of a national rebate to apologize to Singaporean adults for facing possibly the most stupid period in modern history. I would’ve probably spent it on a staycation anyways & would be less mad at the government for assuming that I would automatically spend that money…that THEY gave… to trickle it back to the local economy, cause I had the freedom to do so !

In this manner, this well-intentioned scheme resembles something like a parent giving a child his pocket money & then saying that his pocket money is only applicable to buy stuff that the parent approves of. Can’t save up a dollar or two out of my lunch for some candy… Boo hoo… Woe is me and the very rules of BOTH Keynesian & Monetarist Economics literally spat on, chopped up, defecated over & burnt to a crisp.

Until the next incident or injustice,
I am your loyal reader Justin.

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