Thursday, November 29, 2012

CNA News - English proficiency in Public Service

Source: CNA

Below is some text copied from CNA. I've been going through this in Singapore which is supposed to be one of the best place where majority speaks English. However recently, many of the Bus Drivers can't even understand simple english. When we've rules for domestic workers who need to have certain proficiency, not quite sure why we choose to go with people who can't understand english.

How about the road safety, signs and other basic rules which are in English? Are we missing something here?

The company acknowledged that communication channels can be improved, and said that it has put in new initiatives to improve communication with its drivers.
These include appointing liaison officers who can speak Mandarin to deal directly with the drivers.
Drivers can approach these liaison officers in addition to their supervisors.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Why some things are more expensive in Singapore - Even MAS got the doubt now

Source: CNA

If you ever wonder, why things in HongKong, or USA or even our neighbouring countries like Malaysia, Thailand are relatively cheaper compared to Singapore then you are not alone. MAS or the big uncles got the doubt as well.
For example, if I see a camcorder from Sony,

Singapore price from Sony, Singapore  is SGD 1,199.00
Amazon price from Amazon, USA is USD 499.00 or SGD 611. What the $$$$? Almost half the price. It is exactly the same box. If we're to compare the price in showroom price in USA, or Sony, Singapore is USD 599.99 (+100 credit) or SGD 732.

Another example is simple Vitamins, some lotions which I found half the price in HK. The list is endless. Why and what is the main reason?

If I look in to what's included in the cost of a item/product? I can think vaguely,
  1. Manufacturing cost
  2. Shipping cost
  3. Taxes
  4. Cost of business (rental, display, employee etc)
  5. Profit margin
So if we see individual categories, I'd think manufacturing cost should be the same across for "similar" quality items. Almost all the items are manufactured in China anyways.

Shipping cost shouldn't be a big difference too as we're pretty close to the manufacturing places ;)

Taxes - Singapore is a low tax nation.

Cost of business - Rent is high but not as high as in HK or NY; Staff pay is damn low here..Interest rates, taxes are pretty low too.

Profit Margin - ???

No comments then..

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Exemption of GST for Investment grade gold, silver, platinum in Singapore

Source: IRAS

With effect from 1st Oct, there is no GST (7% as of now) for "precious metals in the form of a bar, ingot, wafer and coin which meet certain criteria"

So what exactly are they? From the IRAS document one can see, 

  • gold of at least 99.5% purity, silver of at least 99.9% purity  or platinum of at least 99% purity; and
  • For gold and silver, a  refiner in the current or former „Good Delivery‟ list of the London Bullion Market Association (LBMA)
  • It bears a mark or characteristic that is internationally accepted as guaranteeing its quality.
In a nutshell, all Gold Coins from the mints like American buffalo, Australian Kangaroo Nugget, Canada Maple Leaf & Singapore lion are exempted. 

The tricky part is where the gold bars / coins from resellers like Mustafa (i.e. 100 grams biscuit; etc). Today majority of coins meet above requirements (i.e. purity & mark) but I saw Mustafa charging GST. The exception is to the bars of 1KG. So it seems it's still good to buy from places like Dubai (you may end up paying GST though); For the investment, I still prefer ETF's. Second choice would be  UOB / CITI Bank savers accounts.