Thursday, April 23, 2015

Inflation is down 0.3%

These are the Singapore inflation rates for 2015:
January: -0.4%
February: -0.3%
March: -0.3%

Both Education & Communication rose by 3.5% and 2.5% respectively year on year. Both Transport and Housing & Utilities inflation has trended lower, continuing the trend from last month. Surprisingly, food inflation has also went down, which may be due to the lowering of the oil price which has a knock off effect on almost everything.

Inflation has already started trending higher and the price of oil has steadily increased.This trend will most probably continue until May when the April results are out. Transport inflation and housing inflation should also start to trend upwards from there on.

Visit Rhinestic's Knick Knacks @ Etsy for handmade goods and supplies!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Truth behind famous Amos?

The news that keep cropping up recently is Amos's Youtube rant online. I did not have a chance to see the video but I did see his post about his secondary school life, which to my surprise, something I can relate to.

It has been decades since I left secondary school and I'm quite surprised that the problems I faced in school last time still exists in this current day. Let me bring up 2 main points.

In school or even in the working world, there always seem to be a trend to be socially acceptable. And to be socially acceptable, it means you must blend in with a group. If you are not able to find a group with the same thinking as you, you will be ostracised, which is the best thing that can happen to you. The worst thing that can happen to you is that you'll be bullied or in this generation, cyber bullied because you do not fit in with the "norm". Although Amos does have an issue of having almost 0 EQ, this should not be an excuse for others to take advantage of.

I am surprised that till now, this kind of teaching still exist because I can relate to it personally. No matter how much rote learning is done, it would do no one any good if the foundation is not built up properly. Giving me 50 variations of a question is totally useless if I do not understand the foundation behind the question. What's the goal of going to school? The goal is to learn. How do you know that you have learned enough? There are exams. So what happens if whatever that you were taught is not good enough to pass the exams? Regardless of what issues the teachers are facing now, we need to go back to the objective of learning in school. I would like to issue a challenge to anyone, if a student can go through the entire syllabus for the year without tuition and still get an acceptable score that allows you to proceed to the next stage.

Can anyone do that now? Seeing the complaints I hear from my friends with kids, I seriously doubt so.

Do not be distracted by the style that Amos used to write his rants. Look beyond that, and look at the essence of what he said. Are you sure the essence of what he wrote has not struck a chord within you?

By the way, he writes remarkably well for a secondary school graduate.

Inflation is down 0.3%

These are the Singapore inflation rates for 2015:
January: -0.4%
February: -0.3%

Both Education & Food inflation again rose by 3.6% and 2.5% respectively year on year. Both Transport and Housing & Utilities inflation has trended lower, continuing the trend from last month.

This trend will most probably continue until May when the April results are out. Transport inflation and housing inflation should also start to trend upwards from there on.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

How does independent accountant safeguard spending of public monies?

I read with interest on the Singapore Government’s unprecedented move in seeking to appoint independent accountants to safeguard its grants to AHPETC. My question is simple. If AGO's audit is insufficient in guaranteeing that the monies are well spent, why is this move only specific to AHPETC.

What's the assurance that the other town councils are also spending the monies wisely? Has MND forgotten about the investment of the sinking funds in Lehman Brothers? Is this investment wise? Aren't those monies public funds? Why wasn't there an independent auditor appointed for that case?

Instead of appointing independent auditors to audit AHPETC again, I feel that MND  should take the chance now to have a overall framework in place to govern all the town councils to prevent misuse of grants for all, not only specific to AHPETC. I don't see the point of consistently trying to audit AHPETC and diverting their attention away from the normal work done by town councils.

With all the talk about over payment, MND should instead take over the calling of the procurement for the town council system instead of letting individual town councils call their own, especially when the town council system is owned by someone closely affiliated with a political party. You don't see Oracle using SAP software if their own software can do the same functions right?

Seriously, in the real world, no one uses a competitor's product for their core business and I don't see why this is called overpayment when the other party didn't even submit a bid.

This year is obviously an election year because the government has spent their surplus accumulated over the term. No leader will take the risk of spending all the surplus in a period of slow growth.

If the auditors are appointed, the results would most probably come out around Sep, which is right about when an election may be called soon, looking at the busy calendar in Singapore and around the world. This court order is not depoliticalising the issue. My take that this is further politicalising the issue.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Ominous omen for downtown line

All along I've been wondering why on earth the authorities would even think of ending the downtown line at an LRT line, and to top if off, the most frequently broken down LRT line in Singapore as of today.

The issue with the LRT line this week is an ominous omen on what is to come when the downtown line is finally open. Just imagine. If the LRT line is down, think of the repercussions on downtown line and all the other connecting lines to it.

It will cause a massive slowdown for all the affected lines and there's nothing we can do about it because there is no additional rail to bypass affected stations. To top it off, the authorities removed most bus routes that duplicate the train routes making it even worse because there are no alternatives.

Is everyone only thinking of the positive scenarios and did not think of the negative scenarios?

Saturday, March 7, 2015

How will 150,000 people move in and out?

Reading about congregating 150,000 people in one area just brings about one important question. How will 150,000 people get to the place and leave the place, especially with our "world class" public transport system?

Organizing celebrations at only one area is old school. All the newer celebrations are separated out into different areas because the planners know of the big strain on the public transport system. Even the countries organizing the Olympics also know this basic concept. 

I look forward to see how are they going to resolve this issue. 

Visit Rhinestic's Knick Knacks @ Etsy for handmade goods and supplies!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Inflation is down 0.4%

These are the Singapore inflation rates for 2015:
January: -0.4%

Both Education & Food inflation again rose by 3% and 2.2% respectively year on year. Education & Food inflation trend continued upwards from last month. Both Transport and Housing & Utilities inflation has trended lower, continuing the trend from last month.

Other than Education, Food inflation has also continued the trend upwards as mentioned last month. However, the basket of inflation items and baseline has been changed so it's difficult to see how the trend will go.

I do not think Singapore will go into deflation, not after the upcoming transport hike and petrol hike.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Looking at single bid from a business perspective

P1: There are 2 companies that will be able to help us better run this operation as this is their area of expertise.

P2: Lets invite both of the companies to submit a quotation.

1 month later...

P1: Did both of the companies get back to us?

P2: One did and one did not. Company A that got back to us has a track record of running our smaller operations. Their system is not tuned though to run such a large operation but they will fine tune it to fit into our operations at a cost.

P1: Will we be able to afford to accept Company A's proposal?

P2: We have the resources. If we do not accept Company A's proposal, we would have no other choice but to run the operations ourselves. This is not our area of expertise and we also do not have sufficient manpower to undertake such a task. This may result in a lowering of satisfaction for our core business as resources have to be diverted to learn this new area of expertise. We will also need time to understand the present operations which we do not have.

P1: Given that our current vendor will be leaving soon, it's important that someone comes in quickly so that the knowledge can be transferred and the new vendor can hit the ground running. Although this is not our core business, this is still an important aspect of the business as it helps to keep the day to day operations going. Our competitors also do not have knowledge of this area of expertise and I don't see them getting into it as this is not their core business and will divert unnecessary resources to this area.

Let's go with Company A then as the other options will not lead to a better outcome for our customers.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Questions have become very political

I was quite disappointed with some of the questions thrown by the MPs in parliament because any one can see that some of the questions are GE questions and are just repetition of the answers already given in the written form. Some thoughts:
  1. Certification of payment is different from approval of payment. Certifying a payment just means that the OIC is certifying that goods / services have been delivered so payment can be made. AGO audit did not uncover any instances of mis-certification of payment
  2. Comparing the cost of the PAP town council system against their system is comparing apples vs oranges. The PAP town council system is established, used by many town councils and have economies of scale. If you need to build a system from ground-up and its only used by a couple of town councils, obviously it's going to be more expensive. Moreover, with all that talk, that company that manages that town council system did not even make a bid. The comparison is useless.
  3. There was only one instance of overpayment which was acknowledged by the chairman of WP. Just because a system is more expensive than the other doesn't mean that they are being overcharged.

It's precisely due to these kind of thinking that have driven down the cost of technology products. Everyone think that systems are easy to build and should be cheap. Well... My challenge to them is to ask them to build a cheap system and get a good third-party quality and security team to scrutinise the system.

Quality doesn't come cheap. Missing functionality is different from quality of the system.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Why the focus on AHPETC when there are other issues?

I have been busy recently but even then I am quite tired of listening to the continuous reporting of Aljunied Hougang Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC) conflict of interest (COI) issue. No matter how much reporting is done, it does not deviate from the understanding is that there was COI but there wasn't any wrong doing. However, the AGO report is also out and in it, there is even an instance of misuse of funds. I never heard any reporting of those issues.

Below are some excerpts from the AGO report which you could also view here:
  1. MINDEF: Lapses in the Licensing of Land
  2. MOE: Lapses in Tender Evaluation and Contract Management
  3. MOE: Lapses in Appointment and Monitoring of Former Staff Engaged for Projects
  4. MFA: Contracts Made Outside Singapore Not Signed by Authorised Signatories
  5. SCDF: Lapses in Controls over Financial Commitments and Payments
  6. SCDF: Misuse of Funds Stored in Cash Cards
  7. MDA: Lapses in Evaluation of Projects for Funding
  8. NHB: Irregularities in Management of Variation Works
  9.  HSA: Contracts Awarded to Incumbent Contractors that Did Not Meet Tender Requirements
  10. NPARKS: Creating and Backdating of Documents Furnished for Audit
  11. NCSS: Irregularities at Various Stages of Procurement
  12. SPRING: Lapses in Procurement of Services to Administer an Award

Seriously, those examples that I've extracted out would have more learning points than AHPETC.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...