Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Income tax collections: A very good lesson India can learn from Singapore

Source: CNA

Singapore shared that in FY2014/15 the Income tax collections grown by 16% and hit SGD 8.9 Billion. This is close to 2.1% of the nations GDP.

On the other hand, India tax collections for FY13/14 it stood at 242856 crores or SGD 53.9 Billion and budgeted for FY14/15 are at 63.1 Billion. From GDP point of ratio this is approx 3.3% of the GDP.

If we see the maximum income without paying any tax in Singapore is SGD 20,000(after deductions), and in India it is INR 250,000 or SGD 6,000.

However if we take the median income of a person in singapore, the effective tax rate is less than 10%. For the same, in India it is higher than 20%. By the way the common man on street in Singapore get "potable tap water, fresh air (except the few weeks of haze contributed by Indonesia) and never go hungry". On top of it there is heavily subsidised healthcare, education and scholarships. I didn't even have to mention the safety & security in the country.

I can easily say (my deduction could be challenged and I am no way posses any insider knowledge) the problem in India is the tax system itself is designed to be backwardish and not for an asian economy. We have to keep it simple and we have to make it easy, and transparent. Unfortunately the people who are honest and paying income tax will end up paying from their noses while those so called business man, big industrialists, and many other unorganized industries end up paying zero tax.

Finally the IRAS (Tax collection body in Singapore) shared another interesting fact.

" It cost 0.8c to collect $1 in tax revenue and they owe this to using technology and simplifying the process".

That's probably the best every anybody could hope for. But knowing Singapore, they would reduce it next year by few percentage points.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Extremely important day for Singapore and millions of people living, working, visiting the amazing nation.

11th Sep 2001 is an extremely horrible day for the world. But fast forward to fourteen years and today it is crucial for millions of people in this tiny nation Singapore.

It's the elections day. I don't think I can sleep tonight and I am eagerly waiting for the results announcement.

There are plenty of blogs, websites, forums, facebook chats but in a nutshell this is the day when 2.6 millions of voters going to decide whether a pragmatic, future looking and hard working party vs other parties who just behave like the parties in India, Indonesia or any other developing country (i.e. focusing on emotional needs, creating the fear of US vs THEM etc).

Singapore is a miracle nation, and it's success can't be attributed to one person. A minor chunk goes to a handful of visionaries led by Mr.LKY, while the rest which is the major portion to goes to it's people who backed Mr.LKY ideas of hardwork, perseverance and pragmatism. But this time, I am hearing some disturbing comments from highly educated, successful and nice people. Which is "preferential treatment based on birth, and most importantly FREE stuff". Unfortunately no person, family, town, state or nation can rely on FREE distribution. Someone need to pay for it.

So looking forward for the people of Singapore to use brain vs emotional hearts, and decide the future of this miraculous nation. 

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Goodbye Hello Card: No cheap calling cards from Singtel anymore

Source: Singtel

There goes another product which I loved a lot. This time it's Hello card. Basically it is a prepaid international calling card to make cheap (It's ~1-2c / min to many nations in asia pacific) voice calls. On top of it, the icing is you can let it call you back to minimize your outgoing minutes usage.

This is by far the most popular card for many of my friends who still use this as a backup on top of Skype/Facetime/Whatsapp. As most of us experienced, sometimes the plain old voice call using mobile CS is better than blazing fast LTE or WiFi.

Guess one of the reason is the popular Hi card from Singtel which is the mobile prepaid card which bundles cheap voice calls to specific countries and offer custoimzed top-ups based on subscriber country. e.g. topup a package to get 100 min to philippines or something.

Wish Netflix to come soon (they have announced that it's early 2016) and kill my other hated service which is MIO TV :)

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Irony. India is the worlds largest beef exporter

Source: Indexmundi

You can see the growth from 1990-2004 and exponential growth from 2009 onwards...

Emotional messages, Whatsapp spam and fooling the youth with inaccurate information

Just received this Whatsapp message from a friend. Full text below and not worth even spending a couple of minutes.

Basically it tells the Indian youth to boycott Chinese good and crush them because they fought with India once, and still supporting Pakistan.. Shame on the people who are sharing this..First of all

  • Devaluation doesnt work as mentioned and by no means RMB is devaluated by 30%. It's around 3-4% (Source: WSJ)
  • Secondly, India is not even close to the claim of biggest market. It's USA and based on 2014 stats, India is not even in the top 10 list(Sources: Wikipedia, Hindu). It's actually less than 1% of China GDP(2013 numbers of 65B bilateral trade vs 6807B GDP). 
  • Finally, if people want to stop using Chinese goods then there won't be any whatsapp users left in India. Essentially all electronic goods, communication stuff used in telcos are from China.
So enjoy the silence guys.

Must read..Must share..
Today China is the under the threat of economical slump. So china has devaluated its currency by 30%. According to the global economists, china will face economical slowdown by decreasing the prices of products by its domestic industries . so Chinese products will be available in very cheaper rate in Indian and other markets.
     But this is time to weaken Chinese economy, which we can do. Coz India is the biggest market for the china across the globe. China is making the business of 6.2 million crore of Indian rupees per annum by Indian market.
       And as we know china is claiming on Indian territory and acquiring border areas,It seems that china is in war stance with India. Also China is supporting Pakistan indirectly to counter India to become a sub-continental leader.
       Hence this is the time to crush Chinese economy, hence I am requesting to each and every Indian that Do not buy any Chinese product for upcoming one month at least. It will be great if you will not buy product ever which is Made in China.Even here to make an appeal to all Indian Merchants and retailers that plz do not make business by Chinese products for upcoming one month as those products are going to be more cheaper.
       This is the time to slap china and to become A Patriotic Indian. Lets do it for Nation.
Guys,India is having 37% of whatsapp users out of its total population ( source: Gadget of telecommunications),out which 92% users are youngsters. We are sharing tonnes of useless messages daily. But as much as you spread this message ,that much will be the useful to your future itself.We should avail each n every chance to counter against the powerful enemy like China.
     As the responsible citizen of The Republic of India, I am requesting you to make this message viral. Do not miss a single contact from your phone book.
      Your deed of not buying Chinese products and to tell the same to others is equally important to the Nation as the service by An Indian Soldier on our boarders!
               || Jay bharat ||

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The new drama about quality in Indian mobile space

Source: multiple (IBN, LR, COAI & TRAI..)

It is a known fact that most of the things in India are about Quantity rather than quality. I wouldn't blame anyone but it is more of cultural thing. People tend to talk 'big' things and 'large' stuff. So same way the telcom industry started to fight for numbers, and what they ignored is the 'quality' aspect. So while I can't tell if India offers the cheapest rates I can certainly tell that India offers the worst quality in emerging markets. Be it the voice quality (half codec), or Data (be it 4G, 3G, 2G or whatever), or consistent experience or billing.

So recently there is a fight between regulatory bodies and operators about Dropped Calls. Based on some surveys the DCR is > 12% vs Allowed rate of <3%. By the way did I mentioned that majority of nations follow a DCR of < 1% ? Singapore operators CDR/DCR is approx 0.3 (Source. IDA). Before one jump on to say that Singapore is a small country, I need to share that Singapore is far more complex than many large nations. The coverage quality, dense urban environment, and volume makes it far more complex.

Having said that, I must say the biggest problem in Indian industry is the basic infra. Be it the continuos power supply, fibre connectivity to the base station, quality labour and management.

  • Power: I better stop talking about as this is pretty common and known to the world. India has been talking about exponential growth in power production for the last twenty years. It will be the same even after 20 years (yeah, am a pessimist when it comes to some topics)
  • Fibre connectivity: Biggest problem with this is the chaotic situation at the ground. Who owns the duct or drainage or street poles in India. Everyone with a mouth and shoulder power. So the TELCO may get permission from the state government, but the local municipal / corporation authorities may well reject and cut the fibre. Or vice versa. Or even worse, the Corporation may approve but another department from the corporation may cut it off. During one of my recent meeting with a large operator, I was told that on average there are  8 intentional fibre cuts in a day in New Delhi alone. That's a huge issues.
  • Lastly the people who became less pragmatic. Very subjective topic to open but as long as the operators/leadership focusses on short term benefits and run the business as a profit generating machine without strong engineering/fundamental skills within, it is going to be a tough ride.
As long as the fundamental problems are not addressed, this issue going to be there for a long time. Hopefully either TRAI or GOV bodies will come up with some guidelines on duct usage (or passive infrastructure provisioning). 

Changi Automated Clearance System: What software it is using..

I am quite impressed with overall infrastructure in Singapore. The Government and some great guys planned it in that way, and the 'first impression' which is Changi Airport counts a lot. Recently I was a bit disappointed with the so called "random security checks(which are not really random in my experience)" and "random return security checks" but overall I am quite happy and I must say this is probably the best airport. Be it the ease of reaching/getting out, immigration/custom clearance, security checks, amenities, food (Ofcourse ,except the horrible, and super expensive indian one), crowd for takeoff/landing and the shopping options.

Out of all, the best part for me is the immigration. After the auto gates / automated clearance /  IACS/ eIACS/  deployed in 2011the whole experience is a breeze. I have never encountered any issues, and it works as it supposed to be.

Yesterday, for the first time I had an issue. After clearing the glass barrier with my passport, the system stuck. It's like you can't go back or forward. The officer came in seconds, and we noticed that the system started rebooting itself. So while waiting there, I saw the system OS. You wouldn't believe... and it's...

Now I seriously admire the developers, system integrators or programmers who executed it. They did an amazing job to go with Windows and the systems are running 24x7 with almost zero down time. I must say they are meeting the telco standard/grade availability as this is the first time in years I saw a system booting/hang. There were plenty of post logon scripts after the booting process and GUI and I guess the front end is a simple VB or HTML code with plenty of back end scripting.
After 3 minutes, the system is back and there goes it. Happy traveller, and a very disappointed looking officer who couldn't believe that Changi made a passenger wait for 3 min. Kudos Officers, you guys are really amazing to take it so personally and apologising as if this is even a 'delay'

Wish our American, Australian, EU friends or neighbours like Indonesian, Malaysian, Thai & Viet friends lean something. I love their job, especially sitting in a comfy chair on a raised platform and looking at the herd who are standing in front of them for hours. Unfortunately I always end up in the herd. Anyways, thanks to Changi once again.. the frustrations from the travel will be gone once you land up in Changi..

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Four of the cheapest travel destinations in South East Asia. Mumbai is a surprise addition in the lsit

Source: Tripadvisor

This is no surprise to see KL, Bangkok, Hanoi in the cheapest or value for money destinations in tripadvisor list. Couple of surprises though. One is missing Jakarta, and other is the Mumbai.

The rates seems not too far from the experienced rates which is quite an issue with the international surveys like cost of living surveys or expensive cities survey.

As you can see KL hotels are the cheapest at 92 per night and I have not found a hotel in Mumbai for 120. I think the tour activity in KL is the reason which is causing the KL rank to go down but if I eliminate I am sure this would be the valuest place in the world. Even the taxi rates are one of the lowest and considering the quality of ride, this would be much better than other places.

Most expensive places have the usual suspects and Singapore is in the bottom list but still the most expensive in south east asia, and second most expensive in Asia.

The problem with Singapore is mainly with hotels and dinner of 150/person is not really something I personally experienced. One could have a better dinner at less than $70 easily. Probably the Wine is the main reason for the price as Dinner includes a bottle of wine to share and if I eliminate that probably SG would go out of top-10.

In any case, I would still prefer south ease asia hotels for service. They are far better than any western hotel in EU/US given the value it offers. Be it the  comfort, room types, amenities and most importantly the service.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Five Star Hotels and cheap tactics to eat money. e.g. Paid Wi-Fi, cheap accessories

I am not sure when does the hotels around the world realized that Wi-Fi is probably the most basic need these days. With exorbitant roaming charges complimented by horrible speeds no wonder the first thing people does is to look for WiFi in any place.

What makes it frustrating is when you are on a business travel, and Hotels provide Wi-Fi for the sake of it but unusable options. i.e. Lack of speed or lack of stability or long user id, password combinations.

Places like Starbucks or Restaurants started to provide Free Wi-Fi and we can see how vastly it improved our experience. For myself, I will look for Starbucks when I need to send some e-mails or do some urgent work. Of course, some parts can be improved (especially in Thailand, where they will force you type 12 digit user id, similarly long but with special character password  to get on) but overall no complaints.

But paying couple of hundred dollars for a night stay, and going through the Bad WiFi experience really makes me annoyed. In the first place, why can't the property give Free Wi-Fi to all. Irrespective of one stays in the hotel or not, people need connectivity and it would be wonderful to have option to use WiFi. I love Shangri-La for that and Hyatt started to follow suit. I seriously hope Sheraton and other major groups start to follow.

Second thing is the 'free tooth brush' or 'coffee' they provide as part of the room. I guess most of the frequent travelers carry their own brush and daily stuff but why can't they spend a dollar to provide some acceptable quality stuff? Anyways, enough of complaining and I will stop here. But still, free Wi-Fi; It's a birth right of every individual :)

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Lack of any insurance provider for iPad, iPhone or Smartphone in Singapore

I have subscribed to Zurich / Mobile cover, and had some sort of peace of mind. Especially with a thousand dollar gadget in my two young kids hands. Unfortunately they stopped renewing the contract, and I couldnt find any similar insurance options for the iPad.

I have tried my best to child proof by getting a survivor case (not exactly same but similar), but today the unfortunate thing happened.

Unfortunately have no choice but through it off. The repair from apple store costs me almost the price of a new ipad 16gb, while the other shops quoted me slightly lower than that. Wish I could have got something like endsleigh in SG.

But this reminds me once again of the dangers with gadgets and kids :)