updated 25 Feb 2009, 13:02
    Powered by
user id password
Tue, Feb 24, 2009
The Sunday Times
EmailPrintDecrease text sizeIncrease text size
Got BS? Will save economy
by Fiona Chan

Lately I have been wholly occupied with performing a national duty of immense importance.

As Singapore languishes in its deepest, longest, sharpest and most superlative-rich recession to date, I have taken it upon myself to save the economy.

This includes leaving work early to reduce electricity costs and showering less often to save water.

I even turn up consistently late for appointments now because I crawl along the expressways until the ERP lights go off.

I'm not sure how that helps Singapore's economy, but 50 frugal drivers all doing the same thing at each gantry can't be wrong.

With all the money I've saved, I've launched my own version of a fiscal stimulus package.

I call it Buy Singaporean - or BS for short.

The whole idea came about after I read that countries from the United States to Indonesia were proposing protectionist agendas to save their own domestic firms.

For some reason, that stirred the first flickers of patriotism within me, something that an endless stream of tuneless National Day songs has never managed to achieve.

And so over the last few weeks, I have thrown money feverishly at local retailers in a single-handed attempt to boost our dismal economic growth.

I say single-handed because no matter how much I exhort this BS to other people, somehow no one is buying it.

But whoever said only guys do national service has obviously never taken basic economics lessons.

There are four main components that determine economic growth: government spending, investment spending, net exports and - that's right - consumption.

And who do you think has been doggedly pushing up that vital last segment?

Come to think of it, my credit card bills must have contributed towards Singapore's boom years too.

But my patriotic spending habits have never been more needed than in our current time of crisis.

So I have summoned all the resources at my disposal - and even dipped a bit into my reserves, from my POSB savings account - to carry out my BS plan.

Accordingly, I now drink kopi-o instead of cappuccino, Tiger beer instead of wine and Newater instead of real water.

My petrol comes from SPC, my omelettes from Seng Choon, and my clothes from local boutiques such as Raoul, GG<5 and m)phosis.

Still, one cannot live on Boon Tong Kee, Old Chang Kee and Wee Nam Kee alone.

That leads to the second part of my plan: Buy Sale, coincidentally also known as BS.

This entails shopping only at stores that are having sales - Singaporean or otherwise - especially those that have had a sale for a long, long time.

I've seen pre-Christmas sales turn into post-Christmas sales and then New Year sales that became Chinese New Year sales and, more recently, Valentine's Day sales.

Now that we're in a public holiday drought, some shops have dropped all pretense at celebrating an occasion and simply advertised 'February sales'.

Marketing theory states that offering discounts is a good way to attract customers. Obviously these shops possess a solid business plan and should be supported through this downturn.

Stores that carry only full-price merchandise with nary a sale rack, however, are not going to be among my bailout beneficiaries. Clearly they don't need any help.

Also not on my aid list are retailers having 'closing down sales'. I'm sorry, but it's too late for them.

The best part is that by helping Singapore's growth, I am doing my little part for the global economy as well.

This is because out of every $1 spent here, 60 cents of it goes to the China factory that made the product or the Indian call centre that provided the service.

Ironically, that is the very reason the Government is not giving out shopping vouchers to stimulate demand: It says 60 per cent of the spurred spending would 'leak' out of Singapore.

But I figure, if the remaining 40 per cent is enough to keep cash flows churning for the local guys who need it, my job here is done.

It's too early to tell, but I'm fairly sure my BS idea will work. Check back in two years and I guarantee our economic growth will have picked up by then.

Once I've taken care of the economy, perhaps I should tackle global warming next. The solutions seem straightforward: walk, cycle, and don't use air-conditioning.

I can just see the plan now: Be Sweaty.

This article was first published in The Sunday Times.

readers' comments

Copyright © 2009 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Co. Regn. No. 198402868E. All rights reserved.