An Interesting Infographic in Singapore’s Business Times on Taxation

Economics has always been too complicated, perhaps even too cerebral, for me to grasp. I don’t even attempt to ace it as I hate to waste my time on something that is cumbersome and irrelevant to me. Yet, I firmly believe that the pursuit of knowledge should never ever be abandoned, no matter at what stage of your life you are in and irrespective of whether or not you need it for survival.

It is here a graphic view of complex scenarios come in handy – and not just for the layman but also for the wider audience. This is where Singapore’s English newspapers have consistently excelled though the lack of stories that challenge the Government’s policies have always riled me.

A diagrammatic expression of ideas is also helpful for those who do not have the patience to go through boring text.

Fiscal Prudence: Today’s edition of The Business Times has a brilliant visual representation of fiscal prudence, capturing the essence of taxation with focus on some key aspects of the recent Singapore budget and on the country’s economy. An impressive infographic that you can check out at http://www.businesstimes.com.sg/premium/top-stories/tax-rated-20140314-0

I am also including the graphic as a picture here as access may be limited to subscribers during peak hours.

Budget view SG

Revenues from Public Expenditures: It also features a quote from Singapore’s Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugratnam: “We cannot expect revenues to increase as a percentage of the GDP. But spending will go up as a percentage of the GDP. Our current fiscal advantage will not last. And at some point, therefore, our revenues will fall short of expenditures.”

I have often felt that governments cannot be run like a business where each of its initiatives is given a profit-and-loss (P&L) scrutiny. But there is no question governments have to keep an eye on spending and revenues to avoid going bankrupt and messing up the economy.

Governments, after all, do need revenues (through taxation, investments, etc) for a variety of reasons – building infrastructure, defence spending, welfare programmes and more.

But boosting revenues through mindless population growth facilitated by the so-called “talent” from across geographic boundaries will compromise on the quality of life, as we already see, and this will have to be resisted.

Daily Illustrations: Data-packed, easy-to-understand illustrations are becoming so popular that there are even Internet sites specially for presenting useful infographics.

One of them I discovered is http://dailyinfographic.com/ although I must say that I have no marketing rights for it! I do not even think they have built a business model into it.

They come up with one on a daily basis and on March 12 they had a graphic on the life and times of Amitabh Bachchan.

G Joslin Vethakumar

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