Transparency

A couple of weeks ago we received a thick, official-looking envelope from the Singapore government. Lo and behold, it was a booklet about the 2020 Budget.

Inside was a high-level overview of where the various budgets – the Resilience Budget, Solidarity Budget, Unity Budget, together totalling nearly S$60 billion (around US$43 billion or over Php 2.1 trillion) – were going and how the money was being used to support families, seniors, workers and job-seekers in the wake of Covid-19’s devastating economic impact.

The information was clear and simple to follow: this is how much we’re allocating to you, this is where we’re getting the money, this is when you’ll receive these benefits.

From a practical perspective, it was relatively easy for a layman to know how the government support would be given. There was no reference to obscure laws normal citizens would need to Google to understand; there was limited use of technical jargon. None of “To cover the funding requirements for the implementation of Social Amelioration Programs per Republic Act No. yadda-yadda” but more of “Up to S$600 for all Singaporeans aged 21 and above in 2020”.

The message was replicated in English, Chinese, Malay, and Tamil — Singapore’s four official languages. Apart from the physical booklet, the budget details were also shared on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and government websites. This ensured the widest reach to the broadest section of the population.

As a non-citizen, I will not benefit from any of these support packages. But I appreciated the little booklet nonetheless. It seemed to me a genuine effort by a government to serve, to be truly transparent and helpful.

Not all hold themselves to the same level of accountability.

Think critically dear readers,