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Wednesday, 23 February 2011

A tale of 2 cities - Athens and Singapore

Today it's a 24 hours general strike in Athens - that means no buses or metro trains.  Walked 1 hour to work today.  It's now a great time to walk, with temperatures of 11 degrees.  But when it comes to summer......  Maybe on bright side, all the walking may help me in my forever resolution to reduce my waistline?

On Monday when I touched down in Athens, got a rude shock to find the bus and train tickets have gone up by 40%!!!???  In the past, a 1 way trip (regardless of distance) on the bus or metro will cost 1 euro; now it has gone up to 1.40 euros.

Can you imagine it happening in Singapore!?  It's a big contrast with the Singapore's budget announced last Friday.

And I was thinking when I was in Singapore that the 1.80 SGD metro ride from my home to Changi airport was a bit expensive (but much cheaper than taxi which cost 20 SGD) .......  I tried both for my recent side trip to Guangzhou.

In Athens, the "GST" or sales tax is 23% for normal items, and 13% for the staples.  I really hope Singapore's GST never goes more than 10%.  Imagine buying a car with GST 23%?

All things are relative.  And I am glad to have this perspective.

In Greece before the current crisis, certain civil servants can "retire" at 45 or 50 with state pensions - depending on the conditions of the employment contract when they joined.  But of course the rules for retirement has changed now.  No German tax payer will allow Germany to bail out Greece so that  Greek civil servants can retire early when in Germany, the retirement age is 65 years old! 

I remember a time when some Singaporeans were complaining we have too much reserves. Government should give "free" this or that.  I think financial prudence is only "evident" when skin meets the road.  We are not like Australia with lots of natural resources.

I am thankful I am born in Singapore by pure dumb luck!!!  I am a proud Singaporean who does not have an "entitlement" attitude.  And I think that's why I am mostly contented, and grateful for my blessings. 

Majulah Singapura!


  1. financial prudence especially for a small cty like s'pore is critical for survival. we have no one to bail us out.

    govt have been throwing a fair bit of freebies that it is now almost expected at each budget. i not sure how cty finances will be when the post baby boomers reaches retirement age & the pool of working tax payers shrink

  2. Hell Bummy,

    I agree. I am hearten to know that our govt put back the 4 billion we took from the reserves.

    Just as long we put back what we took, and continue to put future budget surplus into the reserves, Singapore should be OK.

    Having said that, we cannot always rely on "Govt". We need to take responsibility for our own financial prudence.

    The rich and financially literate in Greece have already exchanged their euros for swiss franc or gold last year when the sovereign debt crisis broke.

    The less informed ones are striking; but the financial literate ones have profitted from the declining euro.....

    Opportunity in crisis!


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