Low productivity is PAP myth?

Low productivity is a global problem and yesterday I read in the FT an article suggesting whether a small part of the productivity loss could be blamed on smartphones and computers. Not just time spent on social media, but by making all staff generalists who have to do their own typing, presentations and bookings, despite lacking the specialist skills.

Well the latter could be one reason why

Office workers in Singapore are the least productive among 11 countries polled by enterprise software firm Unit4.

The study found that Singapore workers spend only 60 per cent of their time on their main work duties, compared with a poll average of 72 per cent.

Roughly 380 hours a year are spent on completing administrative or repetitive tasks. This is equivalent to 47.5 work days or two months of the working year.

This loss of productivity is costing the Singapore service industry more than S$36.5 billion annually, said Unit4.

Its survey comes amid studies that show labour productivity in Singapore is decreasing due to significant challenges from structural transformation and ageing demographics.

Singapore office workers said the specific daily administrative tasks that prevent them from focusing on their primary duties include manually collating and entering data, tracking their project status, handling invoices as well as submitting their expenses and planning travel.


Whatever, hopefully in 2o18, we will find out that productivity in 2017 improved just like it did in 2016:

Singapore’s productivity could improve a little bit more this year, having achieved 1 per cent growth in 2016, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Saturday (Aug 12).

Speaking at a National Day dinner at his ward in Teck Ghee, Mr Lee pointed out that 2016 was the first time in several years that a positive productivity figure had been achieved.

“Productivity is important because it means each worker is able to produce more and therefore we can earn more, therefore the company can do better, therefore Singapore can progress,” said Mr Lee.

“This year, our productivity may do a little bit better still and that’s an encouraging sign,” he added. “It shows that our policies are working, we are able to upgrade our economy and we are able steadily to improve everybody’s lives.”

Read more at http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/singapore-s-productivity-could-improve-this-year-pm-lee-9118134

All up to the PM, Tharman and the other ministers? Juz really cut the flow of FTs to the A320 load from the A380 cargo load. To be fair to the ministers, FTs were coming in by the cattle truck load until recently.

After all, the official productivity figures account for the cash value of output produced, divided by the number of workers. And with “a preference among businesses to use extra labour when wages are low”, mathematically so long as cheap FTs are let in, our productivity numbers will be low, giving the PAPpies and other fat cats the excuse not to raise wages: “Productivity is bad, how to give pay rises?”

But what if productivity isn’t low?

One of the great economic puzzles of recent years has been the slowdown in productivity growth across Western nations. There are many potential explanations for this: the continued survival of zombie companies in a low-rate era; mismeasurement of the gains from technology; new tech being less significant than older innovations (the Robert Gordon thesis); a preference among businesses to use extra labour when wages are low. And so on.

FT (my emphasis)

And what if the PAP knows it, but isn’t telling us because it wants to keep on suppressing wages?

Seriously, mismeasurement of productivity (and GDP) is something that is troubling economists:

— https://www.economist.com/news/finance-and-economics/21699939-there-are-more-explanations-solutions-productivity-slowdown-working

— https://www.economist.com/news/briefing/21697845-gross-domestic-product-gdp-increasingly-poor-measure-prosperity-it-not-even
Cynical Investor

Cynical Investor blogs at Thoughts of a Cynical Investor.





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12 Responses to “Low productivity is PAP myth?”

  • LIONS:

    Not to blow trumpet but i am proud to have been part of the WORLD’S BEST WORKERS,as surveyed by ILO N BERI,who brought about the SINGAPORE MIRACLE.
    Eversince lee ah long n his daft clan started REPLACING HIGHLY PRODUCTIVE SGS WITH HIS FAKE FTs,national productivity went one way n that is DOWN,DOWN,DOWN.
    LER AH LONG IS THE FATHER OF UNPRODUCTIVE FTs; no one can take that credit away from him.LOL!

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  • Tremendous:

    We have people in sovereign funds and GLCs which we asssumed have been doing real work for years. Isn’t productivity also a function of conscience, not just number of workers or salaries ? How do we calculate productivity when there’s bad governance that resulted in huge legal compensations, international damage on the country’s reputation, and awry investments with tax payers’ money for the headcounts involved ?
    When people don’t have the conscience to step down after their job failures, when they don’t speak up on wrongdoings and continue to hog and hug fat paychecks, what productivity do we want ?

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  • patriot of Temesak:

    We are considered the hardest & longest working WORKFORCE???

    And yet our Productivity is LOW???

    Tell me WHY??? when you work Hard & Long with no extras or OT and yet considered NON-Productive

    Have the workers in Singapore been CONDITIONED to such a LEVEL by the Evil Regime that we work like ROBOTS and NOT “THINK” like humans???

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  • Heartbeats:

    We are missing out of real talent to fix real productivity issues at root cause and not applying only bandages.

    Instead of fixing real productivity inhibitor lime mart breKdown, we like to invest big bucks in show off projects like Brompton bike and now bicycle parking .


    One should check who’s idea is this in Mr LTA organisation and which company was awarded the contract. Just drive around daily and you can see all bike sharing bikes parking in disarray all over the pavement and across the island.

    Instead of questioning whoses idea to implement this bike sharing in haphazard way and still no solution yet for haphazard parking across island, no infrastructure support and thought out plan to roll out personal mobility to be used by public everywhere resulting In high accident rate with loss of life,

    Now with unreliable MRT system, sharied bike is littering the street, slow down pedestrian users and making city in gardens like in garbage and personal mobility icreating inconvenient for pesdestruan and road users and kills j. Some cases life Andrew endangering pedestrian.. we have a serious productivity issue on hand.

    Why the hell is lta still spending time and millions on this automation of bike parking . Is it sustainable and will it ever get paid off .????.

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  • l'ingenieur:

    No point raising wages if companies can buy the same service just 50km away.

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  • CCK:

    PAP is the most unproductive organisation in SG … demand to be the the world highest paid and yet produce boo boo after boo boo …

    Should be sacked !! Those who agree, please kee chui !

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  • PAP has negative productivity:

    PAP officeholders pay themselves millions each year despite the FACT that Singaporeans have become worse off as shown below:
    (1) stagnant wages with high prices
    (2) more and more PMET driving cabs
    (3) CPF accounts of Singaporeans are depleted after paying for HDB flat
    (4) HDB flat prices more than doubled over the last 10 years while wages were stagnant.
    (5) Singapore has low productivity.
    (6) Failed privatization of public transport.
    (7) Unreliable public transport system.
    (8) More corruption/abuse of power scandals

    Based on the above the productivity of PAP is NEGATIVE. VTO. Clear the swamp.

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  • oxygen:

    @ l’ingenieur:

    AUTOMATION KILLS SOME JOBS, so the labor content is irrelevant – there is no productivity relevance measures when that part of labor in the production equation is absent.

    l'ingenieur: No point raising wages if companies can buy the same service just 50km away.

    The writer of this thread is groping in the dark of ignorance again. The telling answer why productivity gain is so hard to achieve is here.

    economists : Automation may drive productivity gains and export competitiveness, but the rising use of robots also threatens to exacerbate domestic income inequality, undermining consumption. And that could spill out beyond the country’s borders


    Indeed Chinese productivity is EXPORTING DEFLATION AROUND THE WORLD. So for the rest of the world to compete against Chinese production, it has to price competitively – THAT MEANS LOWER SALES REVENUE for the same labor input. And how to you compete against China when its ex-factory door price have been falling EVERY MONTH SINCE 2012 until mid 2017? Chinese Producer Price Index fall for 56 consecutive months before rising commodities prices lifted its own costs and ex-factory gate prices.

    The Chinese having been racing at breakneck speed of manufacturing automation using robots. Coming from behind-far from Singapore, S.Korea, Japan and Germany etc, the productivity mileage gain achieved in China is all conquering and saturation is nowhere in sight.

    If LEE-jiapore thinks it can compete against the Chinese manufacturing by importing foreign labor influx – it is knocking its head against the wall, How can low skilled labor influx is ever going to compete against increasing robotization of Chinese production? Foreign influx adds to a lot of social/invisible infrastructural costs – mostly hidden. SG Govt is going to have to raise a lot of indirect taxes adding to production costs. And frequent MRT breakdown adds to productivity loss.

    All these whilst China still exporting deflation to the rest of the world. No wonder Tharman said our foreign influx originated population recycling economics is BOTH POLITICALLY AND ECONOMICALLY STUPID. You get foreign ghettos of non-assimilation and explosive housing and living costs pushing up wage pressures & production costs or under employment of skills everywhere (loss productivity)


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  • oxygen:

    @ l’ingenieur:

    HERE IS INTERACTIVE CHINESE PPI chart -column over the last 10 years.


    The Chinese grew their exports and GDP growth by discounting ex-factory prices from 2012 for 56 consecutive months.

    So in simple extrapolation if a worker in LEEjiapore produced 100 gadget selling $100, his output per year is $10,000 per year. Assuming the Chinese worker is also producing the same output of 100 gadget and selling for $100 in year 2012.

    By 2016, the Chinese ex-factory price is $60 per unit of gadget – thanks to higher robotic-assisted automation productivity again, he will sell 166 units to get the same $10,000 in sales revenue. So the worker in LEE-jiapore working over-time without overtime penalty pay, must also produce 166 units to generate the same $10,000 to his employer. The LEE-jiapore worker produces more i.e. by 66% in unit terms but his productivity gain to employer is ZERO (he gets only $10,000 in 2012 and 2016) – Chinese price discounting (export deflation) ate up all the gain.

    Our costs base, apart from wages, is too high – rental in space occupational costs, COE, ERP, CPF (back door tax for PAPPy) water, electricity, foreign worker levy etc etc and a lot of process are already automated (robots can’t perform every tasks).

    SO IMPORTING CHEAP FOREIGN LABOR is NOT going to solve our problem of “low productivity”. It just make it worst, a lot worst – it is like cutting our nose to spike our face. But PAPpys for political reasons, are persisting on the dead end pathway, looking to splash $22 billion on infrastructure costs which must be recoup from taxes, GST, URA land sales (adding to accommodation costs for all), HDB resale levy etc etc etc – EXACTLY THE STUPID DOG CHASING ITS OWN TAIL TO EXHAUSTION COLLAPSE.

    Sinkies are already working the longest hours per week in the whole world.
    Even an American jogger in NY knows that we have MAXED OUT on this score of productivity squeezing blood out of stone. He wrote this in Oct 2012.



    PAPpy failed of economic management or mismanagement I should say. Now the country survival is trapped under threat. And still walking stupid and blind forward on the same pathway of artificial beauties of “asset enhancement politics” fiction mainly of very expensive housing bubbles but no real economy to sustain that fake beauty.

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  • oxygen:

    THE TITLE OF THIS ARTICLE THREAD is a misnomer & presented as an enigma well-suited for consumption of the 70% dumbfarked Sinkie peasants. The baby cry of “productivity catcalls in LEE-jiapore is a PIOUS FART OF FICTION.

    My sources of information in LEE-jiapore are reliable and I checked my sources. Don’t believe me? Try this yourself.

    Please call 1605 SingPost customer hotline to check status of your inward registered article. The programmed recorded message will ask you to key in your article tracking number (usually is 2 alphabet followed by 9 digits number and then 2 alphabet which for incoming from Australia is au). The instruction tells you to ignore alphabets, just the 9 digits then followed by # sign. The recorded message will tell enquirer you key in the wrong number (when in fact is checked as correct), then try again. After repeated tries of “wrong” number, it will NOT tell you that you key in the SAME “wrong” number any more, but simply says “good-bye” to inquirer. IT WAS ALL FUN of multiple tries. The inquirer is left to puzzle if the customers hot line 1605 is man or not (non-existent) or it is a dumb recorded message taking the caller of 1605 for a run around the block of good mental exercise.

    PRODUCTIVITY AT ICA IS EVEN BETTER. Very quick results is “guaranteed”. Try calling 6391 6100. You will get this recorded message which said something to the effect like – WE ARE EXPERIENCING AN UNUSUAL HIGH CALL VOLUME, MAYBE YOU CAN TRY CALL LATER and, followed by the usual very courteous “goodbye”

    And yes, keep trying through the day – the recorded message is exactly the same – unusually high call volume, try again later advice and ‘GOODBYE”.

    The recorded message is UNUSUALLY BRIEF before the shut-down of caller takes place.

    The caller is left to puzzle if that recorded message means the customers service hotline is unmanned (fictitious) or man by a few staff and thousands (of foreigners in LEE-jiapore and daft Sinkies) calling in every minute such that ICA’s customers service call centre staff couldn’t even breathe oxygen forget about toilet breaks and no food/drinks to keep them alive on the job 24/7/365.

    I am left to wonder if LEE-jiapore is WAY OVERLOAD with foreign influx that ALL ITS INFRASTRUCTURE from ICA, Singpost, to healthcare to MRT is in CRASHED STATE – all working at recovery in crisis management of staying alive.

    If my bewilderment puzzle is correct of judgment that LEE_jiapore is overloaded relative to infrastructure, it is NEAR TO COLLAPSE if we keep adding to foreigners which Tharman calls BOTH POLITICALLY AND ECONOMICALLY STUPID.

    STUPID INDEED – productivity is a fetid of sewage we are swimming in.

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  • oxygen:

    PRODUCTIVITY CALL IN LEE-jiapore is FAKE NEWS. Healthcare even degenerated into third world “hell-care”. You get charged for services battling for your medical care needs inside a tentage for lack of bed space or resting on a bed in the corridor outside a ward.

    Oh, please pardon the pun of this writer poor spelling, remember he failed is kindergarten leaving examination, so still stuck inside to learn correct spelling otherwise taught to Primary One kids.

    Productivity at its peak besides frequent MRT lines breakdowns? I heard that polyclinic closing time is 5.00 pm but shut their door for registration an hour earlier – OVERLOADED AGAIN. Or shut down services “improve” productivity since doctors and staff at polyclinic can all go back home to catch the 5.00 pm train at the station.

    And if you are to visit your local post office – DON’T BE SURPRISED to see two long queues with a sign overhead says – all services – but one Q moved customer traffic at twice the pace of another. You are left to puzzle if some of the customers service officers are “efficient” and others “illiterate” or still living on the slow lane cultures where they are likely to originate from and there is little communications between them. For faster services, customers are STRONGLY ADVISED TO WALK UP TO THE SERVICE COUNTER AND INSPECT for a moment WHICH QUEUE IS FASTER OF SERVICE BEFORE YOU JOIN THAT ‘FAST MOVING Q’ according to my humorous informed source.

    If this is not funny enough yet – try this of banking hall experience. You see service counters are manned by fresh young college/polytechnic grads displacing those with 10 years or longer of counter service. The only problem of this cheaper DISPLACEMENT of counter service staff is that these newbies ARE CLUELESS OF BANKING LAW AND PRACTICES. When challenged, their superiors can give you stupid answers easily contradicted by any well-informed elderly customers – another proof that ignorant “bankers” leading dumber tellers. If the matter goes higher to customers’complaint, they initially conceded customer is right, then rescind latter if you asked for written reply which denied they were wrong. Challenged further, they “re-interpret” banking laws – impliedly leaving you the option to sue in the court to prove which interpretation is correct. Decades ago, retail banking were staffed by those with qualifications from the UK Institute of Bankers. Not anymore.

    Soon if you have those INFLUX from Pinoy, Indo or Myammar manning tellers role in retail banking, THEY NEVER HEARD OF BANKING LAW, I AM SUPREMELY CONFIDENT that productivity is GOING TO BE CHEAPER, F^^KER, AND USELESS.

    HAVE FUN!!

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  • oxygen:

    PAPpys PRODUCTIVITY CATCALLS ARE A HYPOCRITICAL FART & myth at best and at worst ignorance of real competitive economics.

    How does “house shifting” of military airbase from Paya Lebar to Changi, PSA port from Pasir Panjang to Tuas, construction addition of another artificial beauty of Changi Jewel add to the productivity equation relative to our global competitiveness?

    And the en bloc fiction of destroying youthful building to rebuilding taller more congested blocks adding to asset bubbles and escalated costs of living pressures traveling to all parts of the economy ERODING our productivity competitiveness. IT IS NEGATIVE OF COSTS COMPETITIVENESS piling on to the damage of turbulence disruptive change externally rolling in.

    China & the rest of the world race away of productivity chase via automation. And we? By adding more unproductive lower skilled cheaper labor from third world economies and rural China?

    This dumb population recycling economics is adding negative wealth to LEE-jiapore. We dig into reserves and tax our peasants more to pay for infrastructures which a bigger population must exert pressure on. Without renewals of infrastructure (adding to costs and loss of competitiveness), there will be relentless breakdown like MRT, undercutting our productivity yet again.

    IT IS A SURE LOSE, NO WIN BET of this dumb PAPpys population recycling economics BUT THEY WON’T CHANGE DIRECTION.

    Just think of how ludicrous of reality staring in our face. Just ask yourself this simple question – HOW PRODUCTIVE IT IS in economic terms EVERY DAY FERRYING OVER 1 million foreign workers from Changi to Tuas and from Yishun to city and return to their accommodation quarters to UNDERTAKE ALL KINDS OF CONSTRUCTION WORK – all to add on to bigger population?

    I AM SURE ALL THESE CONSTRUCTION IS JUST PAYING MONEY FROM OUR RESERVES/CPF to foreigners who then pay for food, accommodation (and remittance to their homes abroad) – in effect, the shuffling of money from one pocket to another.


    PAPpys call this GDP growth every year – nice number to look at and justify the pay packet of politically-fabricated unnatural aristocrats – taking dumb peasants for a fool.

    If foreigner creates job for Sinkies, you won’t need a million foreigners to create maybe a few thousand jobs for locals – IT WILL BE THE REVERSE.


    How come it is the reverse now?

    PAPpy pulled a fast one on the dumbf*rked 70% peasants of its hypocritical “productivity” call. It is a MYTH of their fabricated nonsense.

    The truths are staring in our face IN REVERSE.

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