While I’ve been following the political projections with regards to shaping this island, for the decisions & bills to be passed shall determine how the building & built-up industry will morph, the recent initiative to increase population numbers come to me as a saddened news.
Its quite a given to guess the intent & objectives to be achieved from the numbers, but what’s more worrying is for them to be blind to the infrastructural & operational issues found to be greatly lacking.
While the relevant ministries & agencies are ramping up the supply for public housing that have fallen short of demand by a mile, the nature of the industry is such where developments will take approximately 5yrs to complete. Needless to say, the pace at which it is taking place is yet to adequately meet growing needs within the next 5yrs. And because the core practice is BTO (built to order), demand inevitably will always exceed supply.
The balloting system retards the waiting process for eligible applicants to be housed. The recent reforms to be inclusive towards single-parents or widowed people may look good, but the operation is still revolved around BTO.
The public transportation system that met its threshold some years ago is now haunted by ripple effects for the lack of initiatives to anticipate & accommodate exponential growth in public commute ridership. Again, the relevant ministries & agencies are ramping up the supply & route planning for an already dense population, and in the same light, infrastructure will require nearly a decade to meet demands that is long overdue.
In this already dense population situation, it doesn’t take a genius to understand that communicable diseases can spread like wildfire. The ratio of hospital beds to gross population is rather appalling, let alone to mention the highly stretched healthcare staffing within the facilities. For some reason, the policy makers may have overlooked that medical facilities are required to be operational round the clock & all year round. Meanwhile, the erection of healthcare/ care-giving amenities is still found to be short, for a rapidly graying population.
Part of the rationale for increasing intake of foreign skilled labor is partly in lieu of the above listed vacuum. Therefore, it may seem premature & childish to pin the blame on the immigrants. However, then leads to the next question if the education sector is producing enough relevant skills to meet the workforce demands, or redundancy – transfers the burden to the people, that they have to invest more time & cost to re-learn, in order to be relevant & employable?
Meanwhile, for many who don’t have the luxury of time & finances to re-learn inevitably settle for under-employment. They hold jobs that are irrelevant to their skill sets, commanding remuneration that set their plans to settle down back by several years. Resulting in delayed marriages, increases the mortality risks for child labor, eventually resulting in declining fertility rate.
Therefore when, population replacement numbers shrink, economical/financial strains increase per capita or per household (2 married adults to provide for 4 ageing seniors), and should they have 2 children (2 married adults to provide for 4 ageing seniors & 2 kids). So it seems that there are child-bearing benefits rolled out, but there’s more to life than just monetary benefits. The much needed time to provide care is being deprived.
The majority is already over-clocking working & waking hours daily, mainly due to commute & retarded traffic conditions, they rise before sunrise to beat the traffic jam despite paying or not paying toll, they retire late in lieu of the crawling traffic even up till 10pm nightly.
Mathematically, magically increasing population numbers by having “instant” citizens/ residents may bolster the figures for GDP, but in essence, do not remedy the domestic issues that incumbent citizens & residents face. And with infrastructure that is greatly lacking, increasing population doesn’t solve problems, but in fact, adds to the problems unsolved.
Having illustrated some of the mention worthy issues & strains of the present climate, it is quite legitimate to presume that immediate action is required to consolidate matters, before pushing for another lap of exponential growth, while the numbers falling through the crack-lines increase in tandem.
In my opinion, the correct thing to do now is for the building industry to go into overdrive; produce a lot more housing, amenities & road works to meet overdue demands. Sad to say, it would be a dilemma to see asset values plummet in the wake of this surge.
Any effort to delay remedy to adequately soften the demands will have greater ripple effects in time to come.