Singapore fares poorly on tackling inequality

The city-state is one of the few remaining countries with no universal minimum wage, noted Oxfam.

With Singapore ranked among the bottom 10 countries globally on tackling inequality, Oxfam International has urged the city-state’s policymakers to increase social spending, strengthen labour rights and enact anti-discrimination laws, reported the Business Times.

Out of the 157 countries studied by Oxfam, Singapore was listed at 149.

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The index looks at three factors – the social spending of a country on public services such as health, education and social protection.

Oxfam noted that Singapore fares poorly as its combined spending on health, education and social protection is “well-below” countries like Thailand and South Korea, which spend 50 percent of their budget in the said areas. The city-state is also one of the few remaining countries with no universal minimum wage, it added.

A look at the rate of progressive taxation, Oxfam said the republic “under-taxes” corporations and wealthy individuals. It also has no equal pay or non-discrimination laws for women.

“What’s most striking is how clearly the index shows us that combating inequality isn’t about being the wealthiest country or the one of the biggest economy,” said Matthew Martin, director at Development Finance International.

“It’s about having the political will to pass and put into practice the policies that will narrow the gap between the ultra-rich and the poor.”

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Romesh Navaratnarajah, Senior Editor at PropertyGuru, edited this story. To contact him about this or other stories, email

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