80% of Singaporeans Are Poorer Than A Cleaner In Norway

By Leong Sze Hian, Han Hui Hui and Roy Ngerng

We went to Oslo, Norway earlier this month.

Norway has many things in common with Singapore. Norway has one of the highest GDP per capita in the world. So does Singapore. Norway has one of the world’s largest sovereign wealth funds. So does Singapore. And Norway also has one of the highest prices in the world. And so does Singapore – in fact, Singapore has now become even more expensive than Norway.

In this article, we take a quick comparison between the two countries – how do the two countries which look similar on the surface actually differ? More importantly, are Singaporeans better off or worse off?

Norway’s GDP per capita is PPP US$66,141. Singapore’s GDP per capita is PPP US$60,800. Norway and Singapore ranks as having the 4th and 5th highest GDP per capita in the world, respectively.

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Norway and Singapore has similar population sizes too. Norway has a population of 5 million people while Singapore has a population of 5.3 million.

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Norway’s sovereign wealth fund now stands at $838 billion. Singapore’s sovereign wealth funds, GIC and Temasek Holdings, together with the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s foreign reserves now make up an estimated $800 billion. Norway’s sovereign wealth funds ranks as the richest sovereign wealth fund in the world. GIC and Temasek Holdings rank 8th and 9th respectively.

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According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, Singapore is now the most expensive place to live in the world. Oslo in Norway is the third most expensive, which means Singapore is now even more expensive than Norway to live in.

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So, since Singapore is as rich as Norway and prices are just as expensive, how then does Singapore compare to Norway? Are the living standards in Singapore and Norway comparable too?

Actually, no. Even though Singapore is as expensive as Norway, Singaporeans actually earn much lesser than the Norwegians.

In fact, a low-wage worker in Norway (Accommodation and food service activities) earns a median income of $5,927 but a low-wage worker in Singapore (Cleaners, Labourers And Related Workers) would earn only $1,000. In other words, a low-wage worker in Norway earns 6  times more than a low-wage worker in Singapore.

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And for the median income earner in Norway, he/she would earn $8,009. But in Singapore, a median income earner would earn only $3,250. This means that a median income earner in Norway earns 2.5 times more than a Singaporean.

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The huge disparity in wages between Norway and Singapore would suggest a massive difference in purchasing power. If Singapore is now the most expensive place to live in the world and the cost of living is higher than Norway, and if Singaporeans earn significantly lower wages than the Norwegians, then Singaporeans would be severely underpaid, as compared to our counterparts.

To provide some perspective of the prices, we had compared the prices of the basic items between both countries.

First, let’s look at the prices of groceries and daily necessities in Norway and Singapore. For much of the groceries and basic essentials, prices are pretty similar in Norway and Singapore. For this comparison, we had chosen the cheapest of each product that we can find in the supermarkets. So, for the products, you will have a range of prices, some cheaper in Singapore and some in Norway.

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Cherry tomatoes

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Margarine

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Soya sauce

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Orange juice

Lipton tea costs about the same, but it is cheaper in Norway, perhaps because during English tea is a more regular habit in Europe.

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Lipton tea

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Bread

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Potato chips

For the same number of rolls of toilet paper, it is also slightly cheaper in Norway.

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Toilet paper

There are some items which are more expensive in Norway. Oil is about 80 cents more expensive.

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Oil

Rice is a lot more expensive, partly because it is not a staple food in Europe and it is imported from Asia.

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Rice

Sunsilk shampoo is more expensive by in Norway as well.

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Sunsilk shampoo

But there is cheaper shampoo that you can buy in Norway.

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Shampoo

Moving on, there are also many things that are cheaper in Norway than they are in Singapore. Nescafe coffee is $3 cheaper in Norway, for example. Again, this could be because Norway is more steep into drinking coffee.

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Nescafe coffee

Cornflakes is a lot cheaper – less than half the price of Singapore’s.

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Cornflakes

We found cheaper body wash in the supermarkets in Norway.

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Body wash

Detergent is surprisingly very much cheaper.

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Detergent

But what is perhaps most shocking is how cheap Pampers diapers are! They cost only about $2 in Norway but it is more than 10 times more expensive in Singapore!

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Pampers diapers

From this quick comparison of the groceries and basic essentials, you can see that prices do not differ too much in Norway and Singapore. Does the same apply for the rest as well?

Next, we move on to housing.

If you want to buy a 3-room flat in Singapore, it would net you about $350,000. Let’s see how much $350,000 will be able buy you in Oslo, Norway. It would actually be able to buy you quite a nice 2-bedroom apartment in the centre of Oslo.

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But this is comparing between a public and private house. What if we compare apple to apple, and compare the price of private housing in both countries? According to the Global Property Guide, Singapore is the 4th most expensive place in the world to buy an apartment.

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Norway doesn’t figure on the list but when you compare the cost of Oslo, Norway and Luxembourg, it is actually cheaper to buy an apartment in Oslo, Norway (430,000 Euros for a 80 sq m apartment) than in Luxembourg (448,275 Euros for a 75 sq m apartment). Luxembourg ranks 16th on the list, which means that Norway doesn’t even rank in the top 15.

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Thus you can that it is twice as cheap to buy an apartment in Oslo, Norway than in Singapore.

What if we compare the rentals?

According to ECA International, Singapore ranks as the 7th most expensive place in the world to rent a 3-bedroom apartment. Norway doesn’t even rank among the top 20.

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So, there you go – public housing in Singapore is as expensive as private housing in Norway. And private housing in Norway is actually twice as cheap as private housing in Singapore, on a relative basis.

We next move on to transport. When it comes to the purchase of cars, Singapore wins hands down. According to a study done by Yahoo!, Singapore is the most expensive place to buy a car in the world. Singapore is more than twice as expensive to buy a car than in the second most expensive country.

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According to Yahoo!, the price of a Toyota Corolla Altis in Singapore costs $135,988. According to Numbeo, to buy a Volkswagen Golf 1.4 90 KW Trendline, it costs $140,000. What about in Norway? It would cost $54,875 – or more than twice as cheap to buy the same car in Norway!

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But of course, let’s also compare the prices of public transport. To buy a annual adult transport ticket to travel around Oslo, Norway, you need pay $1,359 for a year or $113 every month. In comparison, an adult monthly travel card in Singapore costs $120.

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So, you can see that the prices of groceries and basic necessities in Norway and Singapore costs about the same. But when it comes to housing and cars, public housing in Singapore is as expensive as private housing in Norway, private housing and cars in Singapore is also more than twice as expensive in Singapore than in Norway. Finally, transport passes in Norway is also cheaper than in Singapore.

Taking note that the average Singapore earns only half of what a Norwegian earns and a low-income earner in Singapore earns less than one-fifth what a Norwegian earns, it might be clear at this point that the standard of living in Singapore is way off the mark – our livelihoods are very much dampened.

Let us finish off this comparison with the comparison of healthcare and education – two of the most important basic rights that all citizens should be able to have access to.

When it comes to education, education is free in Norway. This is what the Norwegian government says: “the Norwegian government considers access to higher education for all to be an important part of the Norwegian society. Thus, there are normally no tuition fees at state universities and university colleges in Norway.” In fact, not only is education free for Norwegians, education is also free for international students: “This also applies to foreign students, no matter which country you come from.”

For Singapore, to study in the public universities, Singaporeans have to pay a minimum of $7,850 a year to study. This is one of the most expensive, if not the most expensive university fees that any citizen has to pay to study in their public universities. Not only that, the Norwegian government would first provide free education for its citizens, then extend it to international students. In Singapore, it is the other way around – more than 50% of international graduate and under-undergraduate students are on scholarships, however only 6% of Singaporean students are on scholarships. In total, the Singapore government is spending about $400 million to sponsor international students to study in Singapore while Singaporeans have to pay $400 million to study in our public universities.

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For health, it is a similar story. According to the Norwegian School of Economics, “The health care system in Norway ensures free basic medical services to all citizens and those registered as residents or working in Norway.” Also, “Public health care is basically free”. What is meant by this?

You see, in Norway, “There is an annual maximum limit for many cost-sharing requirements, above which out-of-pocket costs are waived.” As of last year, Norwegians only need to pay a maximum of $426 every year to see the doctor.

However, in Singapore, there is no cap on how much Singaporeans need to pay for healthcare, so much so that in 2012, there were “over 2,400 MediShield policyholders (who had to make) co-payments of over $10,000 each“.

In fact, on a per capita basis, Singaporeans actually have to spend the most out-of-pocket for healthcare. In fact, we spend more than twice as much as Norwegians on healthcare.

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So, let’s give you a quick rundown of how much things cost in Norway and Singapore.

  • For groceries and daily necessities, prices are about the same in Norway and Singapore.
  • For housing and transport, private housing and cars are twice as expensive in Singapore than Norway, public housing in Singapore is as expensive as private housing in Norway and monthly transport passes are cheaper in Oslo, Norway than Singapore.
  • For healthcare and education, it is basically free for Norwegians but Singaporeans pay the highest prices in the world to access these basic needs.

So, you see Singapore is now the most expensive place to live in the world and based on the comparison of the prices, you can see why Singapore is actually more expensive than Norway.

Not only that, Singaporeans also earn much lesser than Norwegians. Low-income workers in Norway earn about $5,000 whereas Singaporeans earn $1,000. Median income Singaporeans earn only about $3,000 but Norwegians earn $8,000.

What does this mean? This means that the purchasing power in Oslo/Norway is much higher than in Singapore. Not only that, Singapore also has the lowest purchasing power among the high-income countries.

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Chart: UBS Prices and Earnings Report 2011

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Chart: Cost of Living Index for Country 2014

This is because even though Singapore is now the most expensive place to live in the world, Singaporeans earn the lowest wages among the high-income countries.

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Chart: International Labour Organisation Data collection on wages and income

But of course, we haven’t forgotten about tax and social security. It is a common assumption that Norway has one of the highest tax and social security rates in the world. However, this is not true.

For a low-income earner in Norway, he/she only needs to pay 35.2% 27.2% into tax and social security. In comparison, a low-income earner would need to pay 37% into CPF. (Correction: a reader from Norway clarified that the tax and social security rate for a low-income earner in Norway is only 27.2%, which is significantly lower than the 37% that a low-income earner in Singapore has to pay. The reader also clarified that the tax rate can be as low as 0%. In Singapore, a low-income earner would still need to pay a mandatory 37% CPF contribution.)

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And for a median income earner, a Norwegian need only pay 44.2% to tax and social security, while a Singaporean would pay 38% into tax and CPF.

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Let’s take a look at what this mean in nominal amounts.

As mentioned, a low-income earner in Norway earns $5,927 and in Singapore, the person earns about $1,000. After tax, a low-income earner would still earn $3,840 $4,096. However, a low-income earner in Singapore would only have $830, after deducting for Employee CPF. A Norwegian would still earn nearly 5 times more than a Singaporean. (Correction: a reader from Norway clarified that the tax and social security rate for a low-income earner is much lower at 27.2%)

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Also, pre-tax, a median income earner in Norway earns $8,009 and a Singaporean earns $3,250. After tax and social security, the Norwegian would have $4,469 left but for a Singaporean, he/she would only have $2,665 left, after tax and Employee CPF. A Norwegian would earn more than 1.5 times more than a Singaporean.

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So you see, even though a Norwegian has to pay a relatively higher tax and social security than a Singaporean, because they are paid higher wages in the first place, even after deducting for tax and social security, they still have more left than Singaporeans. This explains their much higher purchasing power than Singaporeans.

Now, take into account that in Norway, groceries and daily necessities cost about the same as in Singapore, but housing and transport is cheaper, and healthcare and education is free, this means that on the whole, Norway is relatively much cheaper than Singapore. For the value of our money, Singaporeans are getting way lesser than a Norwegian.

Also, you have to take note that of the income that is left after tax and social security, a Norwegian doesn’t have to use this income to pay for healthcare and education. However, for a Singaporean, we would still have to use this income to pay for healthcare and education. What may this means if a person falls sick 10 times over the course of a year, – instead of $800, a low-income Singaporean might only have about $650 of comparable disposable income and for a median income Singaporean, instead of $2,665, he/she might only have $2,300 of comparable disposable income. So, if a Singaporean would need to pay for their children’s education fees and go for  a major operation, you can imagine how much we would have to lose from our wages whereas for a Norwegian, their children and even themselves can study, and go for major operations with peace of mind.

Let us put this into a bit of perspective for you. For a low-income earner in Norway, after tax and social security, he/she earns $3,840. But for the poorer 50% of Singaporeans, after tax and CPF, we earn less than $2.665. Do you know what this means? This means that for possibly the poorer 70% of Singaporeans, we are actually poorer than a cleaner in Norway, from a total cashflow perspective.

Or in other words, a cleaner in Norway can actually live a much better life than 70% of Singaporeans. But this has yet to account for the additional healthcare and education that Singaporeans have to spend out of our own pockets which the Norwegians don’t have to. If you add this into the mix, this means that possibly the poorest 80% of Singaporeans are actually poorer than even a cleaner in Norway.

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Does this come as a shock for you? Because the cost of living is higher in Singapore than in Norway but wages are several times lower, not only do Singaporeans have the lowest purchasing power in the world, up to 80% of Singaporeans are poorer than a cleaner in Norway.

Perhaps now it would make sense as to why for the poorest 30% of households in Singapore, they have to spend 105% to 151% of their incomes.

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And how for middle-income Singaporeans, two-thirds of us say that we only have enough to buy what we need but not any more else.

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Perhaps let us give you just a few more statistics to put things into perspective.

So, 80% of Singaporeans are poorer than a cleaner in Norway. Do you know that the richest 15% in Singapore earns as much income as the poorest 85% of Singaporeans?

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Do you also know that even though Singaporeans earn the lowest wages among the high-income countries, the highest-income earners actually earn the highest salaries among the high-income countries?

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Chart: ECA Global Perspectives National Salary Comparison 2012

Not only that, the highest-income earners also pay the lowest tax and social security among the high-income countries.

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Chart: KPMG’s Individual Income Tax and Social Security Rate Survey 2012

And the majority of poorer Singaporeans actually pay higher tax and social security (as a proportion of their income) than the richest Singaporeans.

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In fact, since 1995, the share of income that is going to the richest 10% has increased from 30% to 42%.

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Chart: The World Top Incomes Database

And for the richest 5% in Singapore, their share of income has grown even faster, from 22% to 31%.

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Chart: The World Top Incomes Database

If you follow the logic, what this means is that for the poorest 80% of Singaporeans, we may be poorer than a cleaner in Norway, but for the richest 10% to 20% in Singapore, they might actually be even richer than a high-income earner in Norway.

Indeed, when it comes to having the most billionaires in the world, Singapore ranks 18th while Norway ranks a distant 39th.

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Not only that, Singapore has the 4th largest concentration of billionaires in the world but Norway doesn’t even figure in the top 10.

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So, that’s for the wealth at the top – what if we look at the bottom, at the poverty rate? Singapore actually has the highest poverty rate among the high-income countries and even among many Asian countries – we have a poverty rate similar to Third World countries.

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It is thus very clear that the income inequality in Singapore is very wide – in fact, Singapore has the worst income inequality among the high-income countries and one of the highest income inequalities in the world.

Chart: An Overview of Growing Income Inequalities in OECD Countries: Main FindingsKey Household Income Trends, 2013

There is no doubt that the majority of Singaporeans are poorer than even the poor in other high-income countries while the richest in Singapore are even richer than the rich in other high-income countries.

In fact, when we spoke to a labour union in Oslo, we were informed that their prime minister earns only S$300,000. And this, for Norwegians, is already considered a “very high” salary, we were told.

In comparison, the Singapore prime minister earns US$2.2 million every year. In other words, the Singapore prime minister earns more than 7 times what the Norwegian prime minister earns.

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When we heard this, we were somewhat taken aback – $300,000 is already “very high”. The immediate thought that would go into your head is – doesn’t this mean paying millions for our prime minister and ministers might actually be too high, especially so when 80% of Singaporeans are even poorer than a cleaner in Norway? This doesn’t quite make sense.

Honestly, it was a bit difficult to get our heads around how unequal the income distribution in Singapore is, especially in light of how the poorest 30% have to go into perpetual chronic debt for the rest of our lives and how nearly 80% of Singaporeans are actually unable to meet the CPF Minimum Sum and are unable to retire.

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At the current state of Singapore’s sociopolitical climate, most Singaporeans might never be able to have enough to retire.

Perhaps this explains why we are now hearing of news of how Singaporeans have to kill their children because they cannot afford to liveolder Singaporeans have worked till their deaths and how Singaporeans have chosen to die instead of seeking medical treatment.

Perhaps some of the questions we have to ask ourselves at this point is – for a country such as Singapore which has attained the level of wealth that Singapore has, is it morally right that so many of our citizens still have to be trapped in poverty and live in perpetual debt, where they are unable to retire and some have chosen to die? Is it also morally responsible for a government to allow wages to be so depressed that the majority of Singaporeans earn enough to barely survive? Perhaps what might be more incisive would be the question of how the majority of Singaporeans are only able to barely earn enough to make ends meet, but for the richest in Singapore, they actually live a better live than almost any other rich person in the world. It is perhaps a scary thought that for the majority of Singaporeans, we aren’t even better off than a cleaner in Norway but for most of the rich in Singapore, they may even better off than the prime minister in Norway.

Once you have gone to Norway and other developed countries which have a similar GDP per capita as Singapore, then it strikes you. For other cities with a similar cost of living as Singapore, Japan has a minimum wage of $2,000, Australia has a minimum wage of $3,000 and Norway’s cleaners earn $5,000. To put this in perspective, 30% to 40% of Singaporeans earn less than $2,000 or less than the poor in Japan, 50% of Singaporeans earn less than the poor in Australia and 70% in Singapore earn less than a cleaner in Norway.

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When we realise the situation outside of Singapore, it makes you wonder why the lives of Singaporeans have been depressed – and you begin to question the reasons. Why is it that these other countries are able to ensure that their citizens have a more equal standard of living, where the gap between the rich and the poor isn’t so wide?

You begin to ask – does this have something to do with how our government rewards themselves with such high salaries? Now that it has been shown by The Economist that Singapore is 5th on the crony capitalism index, or the 5th easiest for someone to get rich if they are politically affiliated, does this have something to do with how the richest in Singapore have kept seeing their wealth increase while the rest of us Singaporeans seem to stagnate.

This is perhaps an issue that we can discuss in due time, and something which much research has already helped to answer. The answer is clear.

This coming Saturday, join us as we organise an event to advocate for the rights of workers in Singapore to receive fair wages and rightful employment. At a time where the wage disparity in Singapore is so wide and where 30% of Singaporeans are living in a perpetual debt trap, there is a responsibility among Singaporeans to advocate for higher wages to protect the livelihoods of Singaporeans.

It is only right and a moral responsibility that as Singapore has attained a level of wealth such as ours and where the prices of things have become so expensive that we need to protect our people and ensure that everyone in Singapore are able to have peace of mind and feel safe in the comfort of our country – Singapore.

This is the least we should do, and the least a morally-responsible government should do.

This Saturday, join us as we fight for the rights of Singaporeans.

You can join the Facebook event page here.

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123 comments

    • Sgcynic

      The PAP IB, like their PAP political leaders like to use individual anecdotes (even anonymous ones) to debunk a whole range of aggregated data from various sources. Slow clap…

    • FriforSnus

      Just want to correct some mistakes, as i am an Norweagian, abaut the taxes. On paper the taxes for an annual income of 60 000 us$ is not 35,2, it is max 27,2% , this is couse of standard deductons, wich is 30% of brutto wages up to round 12000, and tand a bottom deduction of round 6500,
      So taxes is 60 000 * 7,8% + 41 500 * 28% = 16 300 in taxes, wich is 27,2%, this goes up to wages round 84 000 $, of wages above this you pay 9,5% ekstra, and higer up it is 11,5% ekstra.

      • Roy Ngerng

        Hello FriforSnus,

        Does this mean that in reality, minimum taxes are lower at 27.2%, and not 35.2%?

        This would it much lower than what Singaporeans pay.

        Thank you.

        Roy

      • FriforSnus

        There been some small changes for 2014, but the taxes are not higher. And sorry for typos, as my english writing is not so good. Yes thinks are expensive here, but few cant afford food or housing costs, couse if u have to littel to live for, we actually get help from the state to pay rent and so on, we have way to many welfare benefits here to be honest.

      • FriforSnus

        Yes Roy, they are, i dont rember all numbers in my head, but for 2013 you pay like this max, and i say max becouse we also have deduction for interets and so on.
        60000 * 7,8%
        -12000 Deduction for income
        -6500 Bottom deductuicon
        =41500 wich we pay 28%
        So max tax for an income of 60 000 us is 16300 us, wich is 27,2% the figure you use for is also wrong, couse u still get the -12000 and the -6500, so how to explain 35,2 i tax on the nex dollar you earn up to round 84 000 us, after thant taxes goes up with 9,5% of the next dollar, and when u get up to round 100 000 us the tax on the next dollar you make is 45,2. There been a light change for 2014, but not much. I can offcourse give you the prise numbers, wich may be a few dollars +/-.

      • FriforSnus

        If some makes lets say 40 000us , wich is round 240 000 nok. Then the max tax is (calculated after 2013 rules)
        40 000 * 7,8%
        -12000
        -6500
        =21500 * 28%
        =9150 in taxes, wich is 22,9%

      • FriforSnus

        I shell calculate the excat norweagian tax for somone who makes 1000 us dollars a month. i use excange rate at 6 nok
        This is 72000 NKR. Using the goverements officcial tax calulater you then pay 5904 NKR in tax, wich is 984 us dollars in tax of a sallary a year of 12 000 us dollars, this is 6,53% tax, i used 1000 us dollars a month couse u said it was singapore low wages.

      • Roy Ngerng

        Hello FriforSnus,

        Thank you very much for the clarification.

        Based on what you have shown, the tax and CPF that a low-income earner pay is actually similar to a Norwegian – which means Singaporeans are paying similarly high tax and CPF.

        Not only that, because we have a low “minimum” wage (S$1,000 in Singapore as compared to S$5,000 in Norway), this makes a Singaporean worse off, especially since prices are similar or even higher in Singapore.

        Thank you also for the article which dispels the “high prices” of food in Norway:

        ” That food is expensive in Norway is perhaps the biggest myth of Norwegian food production. No other uses as little food as us. That one thinks that food is expensive in Norway, might have something to do with that we look at food prices in isolation and not in the context of wage growth, says communications manager Eric Nedrelid in Norwegian Agricultural Cooperatives said.”

      • FriforSnus

        You are welcome, there are a lot of things that could be a bit better in Norway, i am actually a bit worried for the future, this becouse our welfare network maybe is to good, and Norweagian youth dosnt want to work for 5000$ a month, to tell you abaut all the free stuff and benifts we would take lots of pages. But i give u a few:
        Parents gets a year pay for staying with their newborn
        Kindergarden is cheap round 400 us dollars for a month full time
        If you stay home with your kid instead of working, guess what, u get paid round 6000 us dollars for that.
        Evry child get a mothley paycheck from the state of round 150 us dollars.
        If you dont have a job, or right to unemployment pay, well you get round 1000 us dollars for food + your rent get paid.
        If u get sick you get 100% for up to a year-
        If u get disabeled and cant work anymore, u still get up to 60% of your usual pay, it maybe was 80%
        You already mentions free school and almost free health care.
        And list of bnifts goes on and on.

        But well beer is rediculus expensive, and it can be lot of bad weather, but myself live north of the artic circel, and i love the contrast from almost total darkness for 24 hours to sun for 24 hours.

      • Roy Ngerng

        Oh! I was in Tromsø for a few days last month. I love Tromsø! – perhaps not as far north as you are, and it was perhaps too cold for me. Lol.

        Meanwhile, yes, I do believe that we need to find a right balance. On the flipside, the situation in Singapore is such that there is minimal benefits, if at all, and the government spends the lowest on public spending and the lowest on social protection among the developed countries, and one of the lowest in the world.

        From my understanding, what most Singaporeans are advocating for is more adequate protection, especially since costs have increased but wages have not, and subsidises have remained low as well.

        For example, for an older person who is out of a job, he or she receives less than US$300 a month, and this is when costs are as high as Norway. Also, there are recorded situations where even with the health subsidies, a person has to pay more than US$8,000 for the medical bills because there is no cap on medical spending here. Also, Singaporeans pay the highest university education fees in the world, even after subsidies.

        So, you can see that Singapore is in a situation which is on the other end of the spectrum.

        However, Singaporeans actually pay as much tax, social security and out-of-pocket expenditure as the Nordics do but we receive back significantly lesser.

        The money that doesn’t come back is widely known to be used for purposes that is not for the people, but to further their own profit.

        As such, yes, what we need is balance and most people in Singapore are advocating for a more balance spending that would at least protect the people, even somewhat.

      • FriforSnus

        Well i actually live in Tromsø, and i do love it here, abaut poltical system, i do think the political system the scandinavian countries have would be a good model for most countrys. Maybe it sjovonistic, but it does work. Worst part of it is the big byrocraty, so i hope your country awoids that. Myself i claim that all forms for “isme” is wrong and the truths almost always lays somewhere between. It was interesting reading abaut Singapore, as far as i know its been a real fast devolpent there and you as country should be proud of that.

        And well it sure dosnt sound right, the diffrense between the rich and poor in your contry, i do how ever dont know enough abaut your economy to make an oppinon. In Norway we are rich becouse of natural ressurers, like oil, fish, hydro power and mineral, all of this ressurses are owned bye the people, so therefor its right it shell benefit all.

        Norway is far from perfect but its a good mix between sosialisme and kapitaliseme, a bit from both systems. And you really should visit north Norway during summer, if we are lucky the sun never goes down. But i guess you wanted to see the Northern Lights. Well forgive my bad english writing, i do hope you understand.

        And well i did answer here becouse almost evryone get the Norweagian tax system wrong, even the Norweagians 🙂

      • Roy Ngerng

        I didn’t actually planned to go there just for the Northern Lights. I went in April because a friend suddenly brought up that we should, and we went. But I would have loved to see the midnight sun!

        Otherwise, I love that I was able to see snow fall for the first time, and seeing snow on the beach. That was just amazing!

        Regarding Singapore, Singapore also has one of the largest sovereign wealth funds in the world, like Norway. But the funds are actually accumulated from our retirement funds.

        The government makes Singaporeans set aside the largest proportion of our wages in the world to the social security – 37% of our wages. However, the interest returns are possibly the lowest in the world – as low as 2.5%.

        But the complication lies in that Singapore is now the most expensive place to live in the world, according to The Economist. And not only that, prices are as “expensive” as Norway, or even more expensive, but the average Singaporean earns less than 40% of what a Norwegian earns and a low-income Singaporean earns only 20% of what a low-income Norwegian earns.

        Plus, the tax and social security that the two countries pay isn’t that different, which thus results in a much lower purchasing power for Singaporeans – the lowest among the developed countries.

        Thus when you look at how our sovereign wealth funds are accumulated from – from our wages and retirement funds, it is dangerous because on top of the low wages, Singaporeans are also made to give away a huge chunk of our wages into the sovereign wealth funds.

        What also complicates is that even though Singapore has one of the largest sovereign wealth funds in the world, we actually have the least adequate retirement funds among the high-income countries and one of the least adequate in the world.

        In short, we are giving away our wages but it’s hardly coming back.

        I think what’s fortunate in Norway is that there’s consensus and agreements among the people. In Singapore, we aren’t really a democracy – the decision made on our wages and retirement funds aren’t consulted with the people.

        As such, much of the money flows out of the people’s hands into the government. The Economist had recently ranked Singapore as 5th on the crony capitalism index, which means that for a rich person in Singapore, it’s 5th easiest in the world for them to get rich if they are politically affiliated.

        As such, the situation is that on the surface, it looks like Singapore is rich, but when you look deeper, the income divide is very wide, where the poor are very poor – the poverty rate is estimated to be as high as 26%, yet we also have the highest concentration of millionaires and billionaires.

        Over the past few decades, the wealth is also flowing out of the country and consumer spending has been on a downward spiral.

        So, what’s happening in Singapore is dangerous. It’s unfortunate though, becasue we have the resources currently to ensure that everyone is able to grow together and share in the growth in Singapore.

        However, there are certain sections among government that allow and want the inequality, so that some can get richer than others, and much richer.

        The income share that goes to the richest in Singapore is one of the highest, if not the highest in the world.

        I worry for Singapore because such inequality and divisive policies have been shown to cause the economy to stagnate at some point and is unsustainable.

        Thus when compared to Norway, Norway has a system which is not as bogged down by personal relations but where the economy is able to function more freely and where the different actors in society can interact to bring about real competition, to keep the economy chugging along. Ours is bogged down by personal relations and rewards that causes the system to slowly break down.

        Meanwhile, I do love Tromsø, very cold but I love how I was able to sit and look out into nature. It was beautiful.

        It inspired me to write an article for my own personal reflections:
        https://thehearttruths.com/2014/04/10/being-at-one-in-peace-and-free/

      • FriforSnus

        Hmm, the system you describe in Singapore does sound much like how things was 100-150 years ago in Norway, well Norway was then a poor country, with some rich and many poor. I do respect people like you that tries to change things for the better. And i do like to discuss politcs in Norway, even thou i dont agree with any political parties here, couse they all have some good points and some bad points. Reading what you write abaut Singapore, make me a littel ashemed on behalf of myself and my fellow Norweagians, we have so few problems, evry Norweagian are born into a sosicety who takes care of you from cradel to grave, and still we complain alot.

        I can understand low wages in poor countryies, but as far as i understand Singapore is as rich as Norway, so for me how you describe Singapore, kinda sounds “unreal”, i meen how can someone even want to work for thouse low wages, it is explotation of the people, and that is systems you have in dictatorship run countries. And without a real democracy changes are hard to do.

        I do wish you the best of luck to change Singapore into a better society for all-

        I read your articel, being at one in peace and free, did love it, very well written and it almost made me sentimental 🙂

      • Roy Ngerng

        Hey, I don’t think you should feel ashamed! Lol. I do have friends from other countries which are less rich (in terms of GDP per capita) than Singapore. And they ask me why I’m advocating for change in Singapore, when things are “better” in Singapore than in their home country.

        I think one thing is the Singapore government had managed to hide the truths very well and that it’s only in the past decade or so that Singaporeans are beginning to realise what’s going on, and even then, many of us are still trying to grapple with the truth and are yet unable to accept it.

        Many of us seem to have accepted our fates and have lost the will to fight – partly because of a heavy indoctrination by the government which tells Singaporeans how good we are and how Singapore will fail if the current political party is no longer in power. This party is currently in government for 50 years and they have used multiple ways to prevent the other parties from running on an equal playing field.

        Back to the story – so when my friends for less rich ask me why, I explain that every country has its own circumstance and as citizens, we advocate for what we believe is right for our countries, no matter what stage of development the country is at.

        Though after some explaining, my friends from the other countries would realise how Singapore isn’t that much different from their home countries. Their countries are openly corrupt, but Singapore has learnt how to legalise it and be able to do even more with that.

        I think the perception is that Singapore is a rich country and because of that, we have similar social protection as the other countries do. However, our government has gone to great lengths to explain how they cannot do even more for us, even though they have done the least as compared to the other rich countries, and what they’ve provided is actually on par with only Third World countries. I wrote about it here:
        https://thehearttruths.com/2014/05/06/singapore-first-world-economy-first-world-costs-third-world-everything-else/

        But the truth is, many Singaporeans also want to continue to hang on to the idea that we are a rich country. I don’t think we are ready to accept the fact that the livelihoods we are having now is on par with a Third World country. It is a pity.

        And until we have the courage to face up to the reality of the situation here, things are not going to change – the government will continue to have their way and the people will continue to believe in a hope that doesn’t quite lead us anywhere.

        And you are right – it’s pure exploitation. But Singaporeans don’t know it. I think one of the reasons is because Singapore is situated in a developing region, where our wages still look comparatively higher. However, if we were to be situated in Europe, where we realise that the prices we pay is as high or even higher than some European countries, our awareness will be quite different.

        On top of that, Singapore’s press freedom is ranked at 150th – the government pretty much dictates what is reported in the media. As such, after 50 years of brainwashing, we do buy into the story that the government puts out and it’s only in recent years, that we are beginning to dig up the bones and find out the truths for ourselves.

        I’m glad you loved the article! It was amazing when I was sitting there. I don’t remember what the place is called, but it was beautiful. It was the most peaceful time during my whole trip. I felt so at ease, at one and connected.

        It was a beautiful experience – thankfully I had a down jacket on! It’s a most amazing experience that I won’t have for a while!

      • FriforSnus

        Abaut the oil fund, most Norweagians like myself consider that fund to be ours and our childrens securety, it gives us Norweagiens confident that we can have a good life, couse any policians that tuch that fund for the wrong reason will be kicked out of hes office real quick, the problem with having that much of money that Norway and Singapore have, is to spend it wicly without ruining the ecomy, see we have lots of bad roads, there are big needs in many eareas, the Norweagian goverment is not allowed to spend more than 4% of the fund each year, and that is a very wice dession.

        Well Singapore have lot bigger challenges than Norway for sure, you should after my oppiong focus on free good schools for all, and good health institusjons first, that is becouse with good education and good health the other things will come of itself, it may take some take som time, but changes does take time.

      • Jenny

        Even the Prime Minister of Norway agrees that the food prices in Norway is too expensive.

        http://www.newsinenglish.no/2013/11/29/solberg-norway-is-too-expensive/

        Solberg: ‘Norway is too expensive’
        November 29, 2013
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        Prime Minister Erna Solberg joined the chorus this week of those who believe costs and prices in Norway have reached a level that’s becoming unhealthy for the state economy. Several new economic outlooks, meanwhile, continue to suggest that Norway is heading for tougher times ahead.
        Prime Minister Erna Solberg fears Norway is pricing itself out of the market with its high costs and entrenched protectionism, and that it’s important to pay attention to “warnings signals” coming from new economic outlook reports that predict slower growth in 2014. PHOTO: Statsministerens kontor

        Prime Minister Erna Solberg fears Norway is pricing itself out of the market with its high costs and entrenched protectionism, and that it’s important to pay attention to “warnings signals” coming from new economic outlook reports that predict slower growth in 2014. PHOTO: Statsministerens kontor

        Solberg was so eager to defend her new conservative government’s budget proposals during debate in Parliament this week that she broke a glass while speaking from the podium. She contends that tax relief and market liberalization measures included in the proposed state budget should stimulate the economy and competition, and perhaps bring prices down.

        Opposition leader and former prime minister Jens Stoltenberg firmly disagreed, claiming that the new government’s willingness to use more oil revenues to help fund major public works projects and infrastructure improvements is not the answer to high costs and high reliance on an oil-fueled economy. Solberg’s budget, though, doesn’t call for any more proportional use of the country’s oil fund than Stoltenberg’s initial budget, submitted before his government had to resign last month, and the government could tap into a lot more oil money if it wanted to.

        Warning signals
        On Friday, Norway’s central bank (Norges Bank) released the third major economic outlook report of the week that warns of a downturn ahead. Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported that growth has slowed, according to contact companies in the bank’s regional network, and the companies predict weak growth prospects for the year ahead.

        Export industries are reporting stability, likely aided by the recent reduction in the strength of the Norwegian currency, the krone. Hardest hit are the retailing industry, real estate and homebuilding, with housing prices already declining (albeit from record-high levels that severely challenge affordability) and sales of new houses falling as well. Companies in the building branch have the lowest expectations for 2014, adjusting their growth prospects downwards the most.

        Earlier in the week, employers’ organization NHO and the finance industry’s organization FinansNorge released surveys showing an abrupt mood shift among consumers. FinansNorge reported that consumers haven’t appeared so careful since 1994, when Norway bottomed out of poor economic times that were climaxed by a bank crisis in the early 1990s. NHO’s roughly 2,000 member companies also predicted a slowdown in 2014.

        Retailers fear the media, in reporting the gloomier economic outlooks, will scare consumers into dropping their shopping, with prospects for the upcoming Christmas shopping season modest at best. “Folks can’t get so worried that they adjust their consumption too much,” Vibeke Hammer Madsen of the retailers’ trade association Virke told NRK. “We need people to spend money, otherwise it will hit the job market and more people will become unemployed.”

        Unemployment up again
        New figures from state welfare and employment agency NAV show that unemployment rose for the fifth month in a row, with a thousand more persons officially out of work in November. The unemployment rate remains very low at 2.6 percent, not least compared with the rest of Europe, but that’s up from 2.3 percent in November of last year.

        Even though inflation also remains low, food prices have risen in recent months and housing prices and rents are higher than ever. FinansNorge’s survey reported that Norwegians are now using their money to pay down debt and put money into savings accounts instead of spending it on travel, new appliances and other consumer goods.

        Cost levels in Norway continue to hurt international competitiveness, which is Solberg’s major concern. “It looks like we’ve hit the wall when it comes to our cost levels,” Solberg said during the budget debate. That’s why she wants to roll back import tariffs like those on meat and cheese, reform strict and expensive employment rules for companies and offer some tax relief, to reduce costs that get passed on in prices and that “affect our competitive abilities against the rest of the world when we produce goods and services.”

        Other less reform-minded parties that want to retain much of Norway’s protectionism, like the Christian Democrats, the Center Party and Socialist Left, disagree, claiming that the Norwegian economy remains relatively robust and shouldn’t be made to look troubled.

        newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund

      • FriforSnus

        Yes Jenny i agree with Solberg, that is also why she got my vote this time, couse Norway need tax cuts aimed at the industry, mainly the export industri. Unemployment rises, true enogh, but there are round 200 000 foreign workers in Norway, and 96000 unemplyed, and i do hope goverment hit the breaks when it comes to imegration. And that there will be restriction and cuts in our way to good welfare benefits.

    • William Leow

      Norway is an exporter of gas and oil. It’s akin to being a citizen of a Middle East country. Due to the overwhelming resources within the country, its citizens are mostly granted an easy and rich life. Singapore does not enjoy such luck. It’s a tiny island which would be easily dismissed if it does not keep up its constant progress and pace.

    • Jenny

      I can only comment on groceries and housing since I am such an “auntie” in Norway. i think Roy is being very selective with the things he chose to put in this article.

      Housing – the example he showed is a 1 bedroom flat approx 50+sqm. the total price of the flat is 2.03m NOK and not just 1.9m because there is public debt that you need to pay for common areas in the estate. He quoted it as 2 bedrooms that that is wrong. In Norway, public housing is meant for REALLY poor and unfortunate people. Most people own private properties but the private properties here are not like Singapore Condon estate. Ours are very basic with no gym facilities or swimming pool etc. No security as well. Life in Norway is very rustic and basic and not those sleek city lifestyle that you have in Singapore.

      Car – I don’t own car in Norway or Singapore. i do hear my Norway friend who travel to singapore and they said petrol is cheaper in Singapore.

      Public transport – Norway has annual ticket, monthly ticket, weekly ticket as well as day ticket. If Roy wish to compare with Singapore monthly ticket, why choose Norway annual ticket??? Monthy ticket in Oslo for zone 1 is 650NOk approx SGD 130 and that is SGD 10 more expensive than Singapore. In addition, that is only for zone 1. There are a lot of people who lives outside zone 1. I have a lot of colleagues who live in zone 2 and they travelled to our office in zone 1. they paid 1160nOK (SGD 232) for a monthly ticket. You can easily find the prices in Ruter english website.

      https://ruter.no/en/tickets/oslo_and_akershus/

      Groceries and Daily necessities (necessities in Roy’s opinion)
      1. Cherry tomatoes – I am speechless. I am sure there are many vegetables available…but Roy has to choose cherry tomatoes. Is he on a diet? Why can’t he find potatoes which is staple in Norwegian’s diet.

      2. Margarine – yes, that is about right. Why not show Butter too? Norwegian Tine has monopoly over Butter and milk products. They tax heavily on Butter.

      3. Soya Sauce – ICA asia soya sauce is only 150ml and the Singapore soya sauce in the picture is 400ml. If you convert them correctly, the norway soya sauce is SGD 7.76 and that is THREE TIMES more expensive than Singapore. Please don’t compare normal tomato with cherry tomatoe.

      4. Orange juice – Yes that is about right. Most stores’ house brand has cheap juices.

      5. Lipton Tea – yes, most likely right. Norwegians are heavy coffee drinker.

      6. Bread – I think he must have went to those really cheap convenience store to pick the bread. 8 NOK bread is really nasty. only the really poor foreigners will buy it. Most norwegians will not buy that. Bread is staple in Norwegians diet and in a reasonable price store like Coops who has bread promotion and reasonable good bread, it costs approx NOK 18 per loaf approx SGD 1.60 per loaf.

      7. Potato Chips – there are brands in the Norwegian stores that you can find in Singapore, example pringles and Lays but Roy chose not to use them. Pringles and lays costs at least 50nok per bag and that is approx SGD 10.

      8. Toilet paper – The brand he selects for Norway is a really bad brand. We buy it only to clean tiles in our balcony. but for his comparision purpose, it serves well to prove his point.

      9. Oil – the price is about right.

      10. Rice – yes Roy is right that rice is not staple food in europe.

      11. Sunsilk – I never buy/used this brand so I cannot comment. I think there is quantity different in his picture.

      12. Nescafe coffee – cannot comment but most likely right. Norweigans are heavy coffee drinker but I am pretty sure there are cheaper and no brand type available that Roy is not choosing. i thought he plans to choose the cheapest in the store in Norway??? hmmmm…weird….inconsistent selection criteria. if it is because Singapore has Nescafe, thus better comparision then why not choose pringles and lays in the potatoe chips comparision???

      13. Cornflakes – we have kelloggs in Norway so why didn’t he choose it? yes Housebrand is cheaper usually in Norway. He should have choose another housebrand type of cornflakes in Singapore for fair comparision.

      14. Body wash – I have never buy or use this brand. Is Dettol now the cheapest body wash in singapore? If no, it means the comparision is again not fair.

      15. Laundry powder – the norwegian one is only 1.1kg and the one in singapore that Roy chose is 3kg. Again comparing regular tomato with cherry tomato. if you convert, the norwegian one cost SGd 17.67 for 3kg pack. that is DOUBLE the price of Singapore.

      16. Diapers – I am unsure about this since I don’t have kids. one of my friend say the price that he put up for Norway is for ONE diaper and NOT a bag.
      Housing – the example he showed is a 1 bedroom flat approx 50+sqm. the total price of the flat is 2.03m NOK and not just 1.9m because there is public debt that you need to pay for common areas in the estate. He quoted it as 2 bedrooms that that is wrong. In Norway, public housing is meant for REALLY poor and unfortunate people. Most people own private properties but the private properties here are not like Singapore Condon estate. Ours are very basic with no gym facilities or swimming pool etc. No security as well. Life in Norway is very rustic and basic and not those sleek city lifestyle that you have in Singapore.

      • Brig

        Thank you for this! I caught that apartment blip as well- I made that mistake quite a bit when looking for an apartment in Norway…I’m used to American apartment ads where the number means number of bedrooms!

        Also, I wish I could do my grocery shopping at the place documented because almost all the prices are at least 6-10 nok cheaper than my local Rema1000! Also I didn’t realize you could even get bread (regardless of the quality) for less than 10 nok! Gotta make the trek to ICA now I guess…15 kroner chips? I can’t find anything for less than 30! Also the only place I have seen cherry tomatoes for around 10 nok is in Grønland…at any other grocery store it would be much more (in my own experience!)

      • Jenny

        If I did not remember wrong, 8 nok bread is not in ICA. If i am right, it shows that Roy went to a few stores to snap those pictures…..that means he could not possibly miss out equivalent brands for cornflakes and potato chips. …selective snapping of items to compare to prove his points.

      • abe

        Even if he was cherry picking at least you see the cherries picked. How often have you seen statistics shown on ST with regards to basic costs what brands were being compared?

      • Jenny

        Abe – so you agree that he is cherry picking? So if ST is not giving true stories, it gives Roy the right to fabricate as well? I am not against voting out PAP. I plan to vote them out if I happen to be in Singapore for the next GE but that does not mean I should close my eyes against “facts” provided by opposition parties that are not right.

      • nokoga

        Hey Auntie Jenny. Thanks for your input. You are right about some things. Though I would still vote out the PAP, I hope the writer by honest too. If you want to be an MP in the future, these kind of things will become your Archilles Heel and something the PAP would write BIG BIG on their toilet papers to destroy your reputation. Jenny is WRITING BIG BIG, like a PA auntie here. So be careful. Auntie JEnny is going to scope your arse if you make mistake.

      • abe

        Jenny – Isn’t that just politics? If one group uses media to publish biased reports and the other other with opposing views doesn’t? Which “truth” would win? In an ideal world, there is no biasing, but that’s not the case many feel. In your own words if you were to choose to correct “facts” and remain unbiased you would need to write in and correct ST’s published articles as well.

      • Jenny

        abe – I agree with your point and I do sometimes when I see such articles online. What I am worried is Roy’s integrity to publish such information by taking the chance that no one will notice. I don’t like the existing government as well but that does not mean that I need to stoop to their level to attack them without proper proof. So what if Roy is elected as MP? He will use the same tricks as PAP when he is in power.

      • FriforSnus

        Jenny food is cheap compared to our wages, that is just a fact, yes it is expensive compared to other countries, like sweden , our naiboor, but do rember we Norweagians earn round 30% more an hour than the swedes. But alchool, tobacco and resturant food is expensive.

      • Jenny

        FriforSnus: I have never denied that wages in Norway is high. I am trying to point out that it is NOT right to say that Groceries prices in Singapore is the SAME as Norway. This is something I can comment on because I lived in both Singapore and Norway. Emphasizing this fact is just simply irresponsible and I have proven it against sample selected by Roy.

      • Jenny

        I am sick and tired of trying to correct ONE simple point which Roy wrote in his blog above “From this quick comparison of the groceries and basic essentials, you can see that prices do not differ too much in Norway and Singapore.”

        I have proven my piece but then someone came in with his perspective of taxes and salaries and welfare to distract my simple clarification that Singaporeans do not pay the same prices as Norwegians do in Norway.

        Up till now, Roy has not answered to my replies to HIS sample selection of groceries. I doubt he ever will and I think it is a waste of my time to read his other posts now since it is very clear that he is cherry picking to support his argument. I just want him to tell his reader he made a mistake saying that groceries prices are not the same in Norway and Singapore.

        Once again, I must stress I am not pro government or pro PAP. I am just annoyed with people producing information just to stir up irrational emotions among Singaporeans. Yes, I do not live in Singapore now but that does not mean I do not have family members living in Singapore. I do want them to have a good life but that does not means I believe in using unethical tactics to stir up social unrest or civil unrest through “research” of cherries or tomatoes and selectively picked the rotten ones.

      • FriforSnus

        Jenny i have no idea of the prices in Singapore, but kneip bread at 8 NOK is common, and it is what most Norweagian eat. The diepoers are correct and they are not subsidesied or pr piece. Pringles are not near as good as Maurud, and i do buy that soft toilet paper for thouse who dosnt like it, but myself with my manly ass prefer almost the same toilet paper Roy showed, and well to be honest, i seldom look at prices when i buy.

        And then u comment that we should not belive VG couse it is a tabloid, it is a dam fact that compared to what we earn in Norway we spend less of our wages on food than most countries in the world. Telling someting else is a flat out lie. Norway is far from perfect, i shell not start a discussion abaut norweagian politcs here.

        But if the wages for the common Singaporian worker is a low as Roy say, then i have a hard time understanding how they can survive.

        If anything ,, Roy actuallyt made Norway look worse than it is.

      • FriforSnus

        Jenny what things costs is always reletive to what you earn, and if u lived in Norway, imagine what would happen if an Norweagian worker got paied that low, then u know very well there would be strikes, the employer would have to payu fee, couse it is illigal to treat workers like that in Norway. And u alos should know that the majorety of the Norweagian peoples would be outraged.

        But feel free to tell whats wrong with Norway, couse it is our right to shout out in Norway if we think something is wrong.

      • Jenny

        FriforSnus

        You certainly have tastebuds that are unique to say Maruud tastes better. All my norweigan friends do not like the 8 nok bread. We have an overseas singaporean living in Norway fb group and none of them agrees with Roy in terms of most of the groceries price.

        Based on your spending habits that you briefly mentioned, I think you have a very thrifty spending habits because Maruud is often on sales and some goes with that rough paper. You do not represent the general norweigan lifestyle. A lot of Norwegians travel to Sweden to shop for cheaper groceries. How do you explain that? You don’t live in Singapore so you do not have the experience to comment about Singapore grocery shopping and life. You are basing on just what Roy wrote and you trust everything he says. That is why it is so dangerous for him to quote something wrong.

    • Jenny

      The article that FriforSnus quoted is from Tabloid newspaper, which I mentioned early. In addition the person who was quoted happened to be the representation of the agricultural organization that is FOREVER asking for more Subsidies from Government. the impact of this subsidies is more taxes and making food prices even more expensive. Do you seriously think they will say “oh…food prices in Norway is expensive?” They needs to fight for their members for more subsidies to drive food prices up, for Chris sake! That is one of the reasons why Norwegians voted out their ruling party last year! the labour party is forever giving in with what the Farmers wanted.

      • FriforSnus

        Well Jenny, it actually pisses me off that you come from Singapore and tells me THAT i am not a typical Norweagian, i earn typical for Norweagians, i live as most Norweagians, i eat the same as most Norweagians, i dress as most Norweagians. So yes it makes me mad when someone that is not Norweagian comes and tells me that im not a typical Norweagian,

      • Roy Ngerng

        Hello FriforSnus,

        First, please let me apologise for Jenny’s outburst (Jenny will disagree but that’s another story).

        I have to explain to you that this blog has gotten a lot of attention from the government – to be clear, it has gotten a lot of attention from the PAP – the party that has been in government for the past 50 years or more now.

        Recently, I’ve written several hard hitting articles which exposes a scam that they have concocted, by using the retirement funds of Singaporeans to entrap us, and siphon off our money from us:
        https://thehearttruths.com/2014/04/02/truth-exposed-the-dirty-cpf-hdb-scheme-to-trick-singaporeans/

        That article was shared by more than 10,000, or nearly 20,000 times.

        I also wrote another article which exposed how the PAP had started cutting down on Singaporeans from 1984:
        https://thehearttruths.com/2014/04/16/revealed-how-the-pap-uses-the-wage-cpfhdb-debt-cycle-to-stab-singaporeans-in-the-back/

        This means that the PAP has planned to exploit Singaporeans for at least 30 years now.

        For the past two years, the PAP has come out to speak against this blog. Recently, they’ve stepped up on their attacks.

        However, they don’t do their own work, having portrayed themselves as a “clean” government.

        Critics are sent out to smash and discredit Singaporeans who are truly concerned about Singapore and to lash out at them.

        I am not sure if Jenny comes in a form of them. But Jenny’s style of discussion is typical.

        You see, the strategy that they use is to basically lash out and claim writers or commenters like me. Usually, facts are not used and they would simply discredit or assassinate the character of the person. As such, the typical argument would mean that your character and your identity as a Norwegian has to be torn apart, so that their argument would stand.

        Thus I am sorry for this.

        As I had said, I’m not sure if Jenny is one of them as they’ve created multiple personas. Also, there is a group of who come from the richer classes aligned to the PAP. There is this group of people who fight fiercely for the PAP because of the benefits that they’ve obtained from the PAP.

        Singapore is ranked by The Economist as the 5th easiest place for a person to get rich if they are politically affiliated.

        As such, policies in Singapore are created to reward this pool of people who have supported the PAP and has gotten rich alongside them.

        This is also one reason why the Singapore economy has stagnated – the policies do not kickstart our economy anymore. The policies would instead intervene in the healthy running of the economy and collapse it from within.

        When I was in Norway and spoke to the labour union, I asked why Norway wasn’t afraid to restructure the economy because in Singapore, we had been told that it would be difficult to do so, if not, our economy would collapse.

        The labour union said that Norway isn’t worried because there are unemployment benefits. If a company is not able to do well, they let the company close, but at least workers are protected. And that is why companies which are not profitable and productive are allowed to close, and the economy is able to find its equilibrium.

        Is this possible in Singapore? When the cronyism is so entrenched and companies which are not able to do well are kept afloat by artifical injection of funds to keep it afloat, can our economy restructure? Many of these companies affiliated to them also earns very high profit but pay Singaporeans very low wages. But they are allowed to exist because they are affiliated.

        This is also why the PAP has refused to set a minimum wage or to even protect the wages of workers on the lower end. In fact, the PAP in the 1960s got rid of a labour union and took control of another such that there is no longer an independent union which would fight for the rights of workers in Singapore.

        In short, we are f***ed.

        I’m sharing this with you because I am sorry that you might have difficulties having constructive arguments with certain commenters. I do not know if they are sent from the PAP but if their argument styles are similar to the “moles”, chances are they most probably are.

        It is unfortunate that in Singapore, because of the PAP’s policies, Singapore is very divided now. You see the common Singaporean being very angry and you see the PAP and their cronies on the other end also lashing out.

        I actually find it a breath of fresh air being able to discuss with you. I am able to agree with you on some points and disagree with you on some. And because of that, I can learn more about Norway and to learn what needs or should not be done in Singapore.

        It’s actually very difficult to have such a conversation in Singapore because of the divide.

        If our society doesn’t change soon – specifically if the PAP isn’t chased out of government soon, Singapore might continue falling apart and all the riches and high rankings that you see today might soon be history – in the next 20 years or so.

        The worry though is many of us here still cling on to the idea that Singapore is a developed country and we cling on to the idea that things will change under the PAP.

        It is a misplaced hope because they had not done so for the past 30 years and it is unlikely that they would in the near future.

        Still, I suppose like all other societies in the past, when Singapore starts going downhill (actually we already are) and when the signs become obvious, perhaps then, Singaporeans will take up the mantle to start fighting back.

        Let’s hope it’s not too late by then.

        I had to explain to you this to let you know the sociopolitical circumstance of which the conversation in Singapore is taking place, and to apologise for any snide remarks which might or might not be part of a larger establishment aimed at upsetting the discourse.

        Having said that, it was really refreshing discussing with you. At least I could formulate my ideas more clearly, after speaking to you.

        Thank you for this.

        Roy

      • FriforSnus

        Nothing to appoligize for, i do partisate in discussions in Norway, there are some very right wingers that just find faults with Norway, i only replied here becouse i felt that you made Norway look worse than it is, beeing born in Norway is like winning the lottery.

        And well we norweagians, at least we north norweagians are know to speak our mind, we can argue alot among us, but if anyone tells wrong stuff of Norway, we usually get a lil upset, in european light Norway is a young indipent nasjon, our real freedom we got in 1905, but our constitution is from 1814. The best part is that we are doing so much better than Sweden, hehe, its brotherly rivelary.

        Well i know very littel abaut singapore, only what littel i read this last few days, and if what u write is correct it is much like Norway was 100 years ago, this until we slowly changed Norway til what it is today.

        To your critics defense, there is no other contry that are better to live in than Norway :). No country so far has been abel to come close, that is my oppinion, and well Norway do rank top in almost evry catogory, happines, wealth, education, and so on. But im norweagian and love my country, even thou i do want to pay sweden from our oil fund to take over Oslo, that you have to be an Norweagian to understand.

        https://www.themuse.com/advice/4-lessons-we-can-learn-from-the-best-country-in-the-world

        and we norweagian sadly love attation like that :), but the articel is truel.

      • FriforSnus

        And Roy, i do feel you are fighting a good fight, so i wish you the best of luck. For me it is hard to understand how someone can accept to pay thouse taxes without getting almost anything back. I dont know where your are in the political landscape, just rember there is not on “isme” that have all the answears, all have failed, that goes for kapitalisme, sosialisme, liberalisme, communisme, they all fail. But a mix of them is good, they all have good and bad in them.

        Since im not so good in english writing, it is not easy to write it so you understand what i meen. And well i know way to littel of singapore to tell what is right or what is wrong.

        I can see why you choosed a cleaner in Norway, but the cleaners in Norway really deserve their sallery, can you even imagine how the world would be without them. What most Norweagians have learned is that evryones work is important for a good society , that is why there are no jobs that deserves bad sallery, becouse with out the cleaners, the dishwasher, the cab drivers, the burgerflippers and so on, they really make our lifes a lot better, and they deserve a decent sallery for making our lifes better.

      • Roy Ngerng

        Hello FriforSnus,

        Thank you. I wish me all the best as well. The PAP has used the law to bankrupt members of other political parties. They have also used the law to arrest ordinary citizens who speak up against them. Earlier on, they’ve also used a law – the Internal Security Act – to arrest Singaporeans and keep them in prison for many years without trial, some of them longer than 20 years.

        I agree with you – I think all the systems have their flaws. What I believe in is at the very basic, what is the responsibility for a society to one another in the community? We should take care of one another and ensure that one another are able to have food, shelter, adequate access health and education.

        As such, what I believe in is that a country needs to ensure that its citizens are paid well enough to access these and provide them with these so that they are able to continue to live decent and respectable lives.

        This is one reason why I admire Norway. Oh, btw, I am sorry that it might have seem that I had represented Norway in a bad light. I actually truly admire Norway and was so glad to be there. I felt so free. Once I got to Norway, I felt so alive. It was an immensely free feeling. I don’t know how to describe it. Having left Singapore (for even just a while), the freedom that one feels after being entrapped for so long is undescribable.

        Thus do know that I admire the Norwegian society a lot and was so glad that I was able to immerse myself there, even for just a while.

        Back to the comparison – as such, I have compared Singapore to Norway as it is the most logical comparison. Like you say, both countries are equally wealthy (at least on the outside for Singapore).

        And you are right – why would anyone want to be exploited to this extend? Truth is we are only beginning to know the extent of the exploitation. For a long time, we’ve bought the government’s story – that Singapore is vulnerable, that we need to constantly worry, that we need the PAP to protect us. And in that story, they’ve also told us that we have to pay them well and we have to sacrifice so that Singapore will be safe.

        Meanwhile, the prime minister now earns $187,000 every month while the Norwegian prime minister only earns $25,000 every month. Imagine our shock when we were told by the labour union in Norway that people already think that the Norwegian prime minister is paid “a lot of money”. Then aren’t we paying our politicians way too much?

        Indeed, the large proportion of Singaporeans are poorer than a cleaner in Norway. But for the rich in Singapore, they are even richer than the richest in Norway. It has become that uneven because the PAP has rewarded themselves very well from our slavery labour.

        And I agree with you, a cleaner plays a very important role. In fact, like you, I believe everyone has their worth and everyone plays a role that is important. We cannot measure people by how much they earn or what job they are doing. Everyone has inherent worth by virtue of being who they are and as a government and as a country, we must protect the right of everyone to have a decent living.

        In Singapore, it has been the case that the PAP, many years ago, started telling Singaporeans that we need to aspire to prestigious jobs, that if you are not in a prestigious job, then you are not good enough. And so, jobs like cleaners, sales staff, etc become devalued. It was all part of a government propaganda to create that segregation.

        Meanwhile, how many of their own children and children of their cronies belong to these prestigious jobs? One has to question why they create the propaganda – for who did they want to uplift? Themselves? Indeed, today there’s a distinction created where they have made themselves the elite ruling class and for the rest of Singaporeans, it’s common thinking that we are not good enough to create policies.

        It is very unfortunate because as much as many Singaporeans are unhappy, we’ve become disempowered while we continue to hope that a new leader could come and bring us out of this crisis.

        However, Singaporeans don’t realise that the only way for them to get out of this dogmatic rule is for themselves, ourselves, to take control and to take charge of the situation.

        You know, it’s a pity. Two decades ago, Singapore was on the path towards where we might possibly emulate Norway to some extend. But two decades or more ago, the PAP completely changed direction. Today, we are going downhill. But there was once we could become like Norway. And truth is, with a willing government, we can too. But as it is, we have a self-styled “clean” government, which is by now clear to most that their interests are not for the people.

        I hope the people will rise, as they did in Norway in the early 1900s. Otherwise, you will continue to see exploitation on a massive scale not only on Singaporeans, but on many immigrants who come into Singapore, but also become willing victims of this exploitation.

      • FriforSnus

        Well what actually strikes me the most is that ur goverment are paid that much, its laufabel, its inmoraltic, it is , i dont find the word for it, poleticians are there to serve the peoples that elec them, period. OUR priminister , and i am proud so far of Solberg, and i think Stoltenberg did a decent job to. They do take pride in serving Norway, it is not for the sallery they do what they do, it is becouse they both belive they can make Norway even better.

        To me ur politicans sounds like pimps that uses their hockers to do the dirty work, just in order to get rich. Beeing rich and having much money DOES not make anyone happy, how can a person appricate something if he/she hasnt worked for it, you know that is why the real rich person never find happiness.

        Im sorry that i compare the singopories like that, but i am not good enough in english to transelate what i was thinking, but isnt Singapore a democay, im sorry…..but how can you elect people like that, some say peoples get the leaders they deserve, and well you are the only singaporian that i ever talked to, and you sound like a good guy, would be happy to take a beer with you sometime if you find your way here north again, and well beer is redicolesy expensive in Norway.

        Well you Singaporiens should study the Nordic model of goverment, couse Swenden, Denmark, Finnland are run at the same model as Norway and they are good countries to, even without the oil. Last i shell link to a couple of youtube clips of american speaking abaut my beloved country :

        Becouse if you want to present a better way of govermenting you have to know what you suggest, so study the Nordic model, Norway is extreamly lucky, not only becouse of our riches, but becouse we are governed very wise and very well.

  1. Ben

    I am just going to dwell on 2 points and I hope to have some explanation. In your section on transport cost comparison, your point is that Norway is cheaper somewhat. When I click on your link, I realize that what you reported is the annual cost of train rides (365 days ticket) within zone 1. However, Norway’s transport system according to the website has 5 zones and beyond zone 3, the cost is 2.6 times the cost for within zone 1. Without any numbers on how many people have to travel into Oslo to work (since it is the capital), I went to google maps and put in one of the areas in zone 3 as starting point into Oslo. The train ride takes 36 mins, similar in time from say tampines to city hall. With that in mind, I cant help but think that perhaps more people than I had imagine do actually need to travel into Oslo for work or out of it too. Aren’t you then generalizing the cost of transport just by assuming that everyone who takes transport in Norway only travels within zone 1?

    Also, you are making the assumption that people in Singapore buys the monthly travel card costing $120 a month. If you break it down to 30 days that is 4 dollars a day. Travelling from Tampines to City Hall costs 1.57 one way, so less than $4 2 ways. From Paya Lebar to City Hall, it is $2 two ways. I do not want to make sweeping statements that no one buys the monthly card but I am pretty sure people have some common sense to calculate ride costs to ensure that their transport cost at least equals 120 before getting the card. So perhaps, many more people than you assume actually have a lower transport cost and vice versa in Norway.

    Second point is food. Similar price, but what about quality? Below are links to some websites commenting on food prices and quality in Norway. I quoted some important points.

    http://www.nordicnibbler.com/2011/05/wheres-fresh-beef-current-state-of-food.html
    Quote: “As recently as the early 1990’s it was difficult to find fresh chicken or fish in Norwegian grocery stores. However, even today if you visit a supermarket in Norway you’ll see that much of the floorspace is devoted to frozen, dried, or canned/tubed foods. And much of what appears fresh has been previously frozen.”

    http://www.newsinenglish.no/2011/04/06/grocery-business-dodges-bullets/
    Quote: ” A loaf of bread averages NOK 30 but can be as high as NOK 40 (USD 7.10).”
    You said in your articles a loaf of bread costs 7.90 NOK. Where did you get the picture of your prices from?

    Also, just google price of a loaf of bread in Norway and immediately u can tell that the average price is around 20 at least. I have no idea how you arrive at $7.90.

    My problem with these comparisons is that there is so much going on from place to place that almost any comparison, even based on statistics may not be as hard an evidence as you think. When even statisticians can conclude differently based on different numbers and categories used and economists argue over the usefulness and drawbacks of things like PPP and gini-coefficient, numbers are useful but only to a certain extent.

    • nokoga

      Hmmm, if you are not going to accept someone’s view, you are not going to accept no matter what evidence is shown to you. Why not just leave it at that? Statistics is supposed to be a random sampling of the population. Have you even question how the PAP get their statistics, like 90% Singaporeans are satsified with the public transport? Statistics don’t lie, statisticians do and politicans more so. Like it or not, believe in what you want. As a solo person with limited resources, I think Roy had already done quite well and way above an average Singaporean. If you are not satisfied with his data, go run your own and send us a URL so that we can armchair criticize your data too.

      • Sgcynic

        Fast clap.

        Statistics don’t lie, statisticians do and politicans more so. The PAP IB fabricate about the PAP incessantly.

      • Sgcynic

        Speaking of “frozen”, I now recall some helpful PAP MP had tried to help Singaporeans keep cost of living low, telling peasants to eat fish if chicken is too expensive, to buy non branded bread instead of Gardenia or Sunshine, to eat frozen meat instead of fresh ones. Slow clap…

      • Ben

        Nokoga: I beg to differ. If your reasoning is valid with strong supporting arguments I have no reason not to accept the evidence. For one, I totally agree that politicians in Singapore are getting much more than I think they should be getting. However, instead of saying how politicians all lie about statistics, it would be more constructive to convince me that my points from data I found in the same website (transport) are invalid. Also, if politicians can cherry pick statistics to their advantage, why does this rule also not apply to anyone and everyone using statistics as well?

      • nokoga

        Like I said, if you are not satisfied with the data presented, go gather your own data and present it for us to see. I would gladly be an amrchair critic to pick apart your arguments by cherry-picking a few counter examples which I can randomly obtain from the internet. What say you?

      • Ben

        It would be a start if you could tear down my two points in your armchair and show me cherry picked counter evidence of food and transport cost comparison that invalidates mine

    • FriforSnus

      As a Norweagian i can answear that, i dont live in Oslo thou.

      Transportation, well its not cheap, nothing beside diepers are cheap here in Norway, well drinking water is cheap, becouse it is totally okey to drink water out of the kitchen faucet, and well hiking is cheap.

      Abaut the bread, the most eaten and sold bread in Norway is kneip , the price and qualety can vary from NOK 8 and up, the one i like cost round 8 NOK, but i do admit i more and more buy freshly baked bread.

      It is true that vegetables and so is not always fresh, rember Norway have snow at least 6 month a year, but if peoples cant find fresh fish, god thouse south Norweagians, well for the rest of Norway, the fish is freash if u want it fresh, and yes we Norweagians tend to buy a lot of frozen food, its how we are. But to suggest that the qulety of food in Norway is poor, that is just plain bullshit. Again Norway is a country where there is only 2-3 mouth of the year where you can get fresh vegeatables.

    • Ben

      You are committing the red herring fallacy here. This post is on comparison between Norway and Singapore, nothing about our workforce.

      • sgcynic

        You are committing the red herring fallacy here. My comment was an example how our own government selectively puts out statistics to hide the true picture on the ground.

  2. Unfair

    This fantastic article, with full data and facts, confirms what the old professor said. We have built a rich and unfair country. Very rich for the top 10%, and poor for the bottom 80%. When you compare Norway and Singapore, you have to wonder why the Singapore people are so poor. May of the answers are in Roy’s posts.

  3. Jenny

    2 – rom apartment is not 2 bedroom! In Norway that means a 1 bedroom plus living room. The items Roy listed has different quantity. The laundry powder is 1kg in oslo but the one he listed for singapore is 3kg (I think). The soy sauce ate also different quantity. Diapers are subsidised by government thus very cheap in Norway and Europe. Private apartments in Oslo are different from Singapore fancy condominium. They don’t have fancy things like gym swimming pools etc.

    • nokoga

      Hey Roy, Jenny is right. The washing powder is indeed 1.1kg vs 3kg. Please be honest with us.

  4. Jenny

    In fact most of the things that Roy listed in Oslo are not things I will buy in Oslo…mostly because quality is really bad. The 8 nok bread – you rarely see people buying them because they are really chappy in Norwegian standard. The toilet paper brand…so rough that we used it for other purposes like cleaning tiles.

    • FriforSnus

      As a Norweagian, well north Norweagian i have to say u flat out does not tell the truth, the bread that is 8 nok is actually good, and its the prefered bread amongs most norweagians, its called kneip, it comes in diffrents brands, but taste almost the same, its the cheapest bread becouse its the most sold bread.

      Yes the toilet paper is of the cheap sort, but as a man i have to say i prefer it over the soft toilet papper that break and you end up with a finger up your ass, well i am aware off that woman does not like that mark, i guess a sofat behinde, demands soft toilat paper :), so i do have one of thouse soft rolls of toilat paper for thouse who prefer that.

      No the diepers does are not subsidised of the state, the reason that it is that cheap is becouse some years back the store chains started a “diper war” as a marked stradegi to get customer to them, and none of the store chains have dared to put the price back up.

      Well of the other stuff in hes list, Marud is a Norweagian potato chip, wich is what most eat, the other stuff well i actually never notice, u know an avarage norweagian just use round 10% of what he earn on food.

      What is really expensive in Norway is alchol and tobakko, that sucks.

      What Roy on the other hand was wrong abaut is the Norweagian taxes, the numbers he refers to is tax on the next $ u make, in Norway the tax is progessive wich meens it goes from 0% to max round 47%, but there are LOTS of deductions so very very few get that high. So we Norweagians do keep more of our wages than Roy tells in hes artichel, i can not comment of anything abaut Singapore, couse i dont know much abaut Singapore, but i do however know Norway.

  5. Mandy

    May I know what is your reply to Jenny’s remarks? She has made several valid points.

    Furthermore, you stated “For this comparison, we had chosen the cheapest of each product that we can find in the supermarkets” But this is not the case for several products. Eg. toilet paper, that range of toilet paper is definitely not the cheapest in the supermarket in Singapore. The cheapest toilet paper cost $4.75 for 3 packs with 10 rolls in each pack, this means that it cost about $1.27 for 8 rolls of toilet paper which is much cheaper as compared to toilet rolls sold in Norway. The shower gel comparison is another example, Dettol is definitely not the cheapest brand you can find in the supermarket, there are other brands of shower gel that are much cheaper than Dettol.

    Lastly, some comparisons are not fair as Jenny has stated above as the compared products are not of the same weight. The washing powder example you used for Norway is $6.48 for 1.1 kg ($5.90 /kg), while the example you used for Singapore is $8.55 for 3kg ($2.85/kg). This means the price in Singapore is half the price of Norway.

    The excuse that pro government reports are also cherry picking is not valid. This blog is supposed to be about the truth. How can it be about the truth if you do not report things truthfully but instead conceal certain facts in order to make your arguments sound more convincing. In the end, how does this differentiate you from the government if you act the way the government do by concealing or reporting inaccurate information?

    • FriforSnus

      Well things are expensive in Norway, but with the wages we all have here in Norway, it really isnt expensive to us, what he is wrong abaut is the taxes, they are lower than he say.

  6. cli.gs

    Ideas which can do justice to the emotions associated with every event.
    Think about the personality of the person who you are
    giving the birthday gift to, and you’ll come up with a
    fantastic birthday gift idea. This way they add the wet ingredients and enjoy the cookies.

  7. Chan Hon Yian

    @Mandy Probably he has nothing to back up those facts i guess. In fact, Roy even blocked me off his facebook account when I said what he presented were not really true in Norway. If he(Roy) finds Norway so good, why doesn’t he pack his bags and move there?

    • FriforSnus

      Im courious as an Norweagian i got a lil upset that he tells that we pay a minimum of 35,2% taxes, couse that is not true, most pay far less, in order to pay 35,2% taxes u have to earn at least 90 000 us dollars, and have no deduction at all. Taxes in Norways goes from 0% for up to round 4000 us dollars a year, this is so the students can taxe summer jobs and so on.

      • Roy Ngerng

        Hello FriforSnus,

        Sorry about this! Didn’t realise I mention that the lowest tax rate in Norway is not 0%.

        I will amend it accordingly.

        Thanks for the clarification!

        On that, with a 0% tax and high wages, a low-income Norwegian would really earn more than 80% of Singaporeans.

        The reality is quite painful when we are now ranked the most expensive place to live in the world, and our prices are on par with Norway or even higher.

        But yet, for the richest 10% to 15% in Singapore, they would actually be richer than the rich in Norway..

        This is perhaps saddening..

      • FriforSnus

        Well the norweagian tax system is not easy, its progressive from 0% to 47%, depending on how much you earn, before i got tired of doing office work i did lot of tax reports for both companies and private persons, thats why i know the norweagian tax system very well.

        Up to NOK 39950 it is 0% -SPD 8 950
        NOK 100000 = 10,4% max-SPD 21 250
        NOK 200000 = 17,3% max-SPD 42 500
        NOK 300000=23,2% max-SPD 63 750
        NOK 500000=28% max-SPD 106 250
        NOK 1000000=36,3% max-SPD 212 500
        NOK 2 000 000=41,7% MAX-SPD 425 000
        NOK 5 000 000=45,0% MAX-SPD 1 062 500

        There is however a tax of 1,1% of values over NOK 1 000 000,-

        Well it is also true that there are not many billonaris in Norway, they tend to move from Norway becouse of the taxes, there however lots of millionairs in NOK.

        I am really prowed of beeing Norweagian, well we are like that over here, and that is not always a good thing, things are expensive in Norway, but absoluty evry norweagian can live okey, as i told you our welfare system is maybe to good.

        I just read an articel at rewuters abaut Norway, they used a pic of a begger , well there comes a lot of peoples from eastern europe to Norway to beg, its sad, but no norweagian does have to beg, well unless they use drugs , couse the state does not pay for drugs.

        I do think ur articel is very valid, and i can tell u one more thing , if the Norweagian prime minister have earned as much as the prime minister in your country, god that would have pissed the peoples of Norway off real bad.

      • FriforSnus

        Se even me thought the taxes was higer, for thouse number i gave you, i used the tax calculator. And well, the answear i gave to Chan was more ment to him, couse i got the impression that he ment that you “glorified” Norway, while the truth is that you actually made Norway look worse than it really is.

    • Jass

      i dont visit blogs and message boards often but now and then I hear mention of this term Internet Brigade. It was explained to me that the Internet Brigade is a group of people who have been instructed by the PAP to ‘influence the online sphere’ in favour of the PAP.

      I never quite believed in it but looking at some posters here, I am starting to believe it.

      It would be fascinating to know how many members of the Internet Brigade is on this blog, and how much they are costing the tax payer.

      This should be audited.

  8. Jass

    As a Singaporean who has worked most of the last 15 years in Scandinavia, UK, Germany and the US, I still remember fondly my time working as a project manager in Norway. I made about a dozen trips to Norway over several years, covering Norway from Oslo to Tromso (though my favourite area has to be Lofoten).

    In general, I think Roy’s post is quite accurate. I notice a lot of nitpicking by various posters (who seem hell bent to prove him wrong). Norway is a crazy expensive country…but so is Singapore. Up till 2010, Norway was noticeably more expensive than Singapore but since then, Singapore cost of living has just skyrocketed. Singapore 2014 is more expensive than Norway 2014.

    Cost is not the only thing. Value for money is also important. Singapore is pretty poor value for money nowadays. I used to think London was possibly the worst place in terms of value for money. Those who have lived there before will know what I mean. You look at the quality of the housing build of an average London dwelling, and compare it to New York, Madrid, Berlin, etc, and the London dwelling will be the draughtiest, most ill kempt, least convival to living. But I think Singapore might be overtaking London for this dubious honour. You get much more for your dollar in most places.

    Life for the top 10% in Singapore is pretty good (though, speaking as one who probably belongs in this category, I don’t think it is better than the top 10% in most other rich countries). It is the top 1% that is making out like bandits. Life for the bottom 50% is pretty dire. Life for the bottom 30% is worst than any that of any industrialised nation I know, except maybe the US (assuming like me, you find that Tea Party fundamentalism and gun violence is a drag on quality of life).

    PAP need to do the job they are getting amply paid to do – ie, take care of the weak, the poor, or even just the Everyman, or they risk turning into the modern Republican Party….simply unelectable

  9. Douglas

    he roy , just a comment regarding prices of goods shouldn’t you use the same weight for instance the detergent in norway is 1.1kg while the one in sg is 3kg same for the soy sauce and rice and toilet paper. Secondly the cheaper brand you pick are usually house brand. Sort of like tesco brand . It would obviously be cheaper

  10. rr

    Ridiculous on how you maybe have only been to norway for a couple of days/ weeks/ months and you think people are paid better than Singapore. I have stayed in Singapore for 10 years and in Oslo for 6 years. Though true that a cleaner in norway is paid better but when it comes the final wealth that each person varies hell lot with the cleaner in Singapore. We are taxed, the living expenses is high as well. Due to thiir business system, alot of times you have no choice but to pay a much bigger price in here( for say after 11 and u wanna go from let say Newton to Orchard, you wouldnt able to find any public transport but only to take the cab. Dont get me to start on the taxi fare.

    So what i would suggest is to get ur facts right, and maybe compare items fairly. Dont take a 100ml of soy sauce with a 250 ml of soy sauce then state on soy sauce is cheaper in Norway too…..

    • G Lim

      I have to agree with you rr. I am a Singaporean who also lived in Norway and London and now back home. The comparisons are problematic. The population of two countries may be the same but Singapore is a small country with a mere 720 sq km or 500 times smaller. So houses and cars are inevitably expensive in land scarce Singapore. Is it fair to compare a land scarce country with another with luxury of land. We do not have oil or gas that the Norwegians are blessed with. Our taxes here are much lower than Norway. Theirs is a socialistic system with a homogenous population. We are a capitalist system when we pursue economic growth and now moving towards more welfare as people demand it from a widening income gap. The reserves Norway accumulated were mostly from oil and gas. The reserves Singapore accumulated built up over years of frugality and hard work. I am surprised by the way Roy and friends try to innocently portray that Singaporeans are getting a raw deal compared to the Norwegians. It’s not that there are nothing we can learn from Norway, but please stop using Norway as an excuse to bash the Singapore system. I suggest you can start by using Sweden and its stats and you will immediately see what others with no vast oil and gas reserves do to the side by side comparison. For one, the reserves will not be anywhere near Norway or Singapore.

      I had a great time in Norway and is a beautiful place with pleasant people. The Norwegians are mostly proud of and love their country. The only hope is that we can learn from them and be proud of what Singapore has achieved instead of attempting to compare apples with oranges.

      • Han

        i have been living in SIngapore and now in Norway. Two thumbs up for G Lim, i agree with you very much. Singapore has come from a very difficult road to reach what it is today, be proud as most of Norwegians are to their homeland!. In my personal opinion, Singapore’s welfare and social benefits are lagging its rapid development and achievement so to say. I wish Singapore gov, where now they are richer and stronger, may think more to revamp their welfare and social security system by targeting the real poor and unfortunate ones.

        i do not want to comment much on the comparison of goods being used here, it seems to kick start politics talk. But i do think an apple has to be compared with an apple (which by impression are not exactly so in this blog)

    • Don

      I totally agree with rr. I stayed in Australia for about 6 years and it’s the similar system adopted as Norway but not that extreme yet. The Singapore’s social benefits are lagging simply because it has low tax system and again it’s not 38%. Although the CPF is not all your money like other Singaporean said and you still can use it for your mortgage. In those high tax country, you pay your mortgage out of your pocket with high interest rate although the loan amount could be small. Those middle income earners are so-called the lose-lose situation, means pay more taxes and you can’t get any welfare from the govt. So who is happy now?

  11. Claudia

    Correct me if I’m wrong but the average worker in singapore only contribute to 16% of their income to CPF. The remaining 20% is contributed by the employer, not by the employee. Your figures are thus very much distorted.

  12. Passen

    Please look into the SMRT train operations status. The Cabinet and Parliament have been deceived. A MRT system is designed with its full operational capacity Optimised for a Fixed (T) number of Trains running on all the original (M) tracks at the same time. Now than Additional (Y) number of Trains are added to run on all the trucks. Total (T) + (Y) Trains are Overloading on the (M) miles of tracks. With more trains on the same tracks means each train must run at Higher Speed. Instead the trains are running at lower speed. Even worse, each train stops and stops between to station more 1 to 3 times. WHY ???? Because the (C) current strength on the (M) tracks originally designed for (T) trains cannot pull (T) + (Y) trains to run at the same time at the same speed. Every MRT train must be operated to CRUISE between every two Stations and NOT to decelerate, stop start and accelerate in between. MRT Trains are run like cars. This operation damages the MRT tracks and the Trains and the whole MRT system. All the Transport Ministers must be Changed because they do not know how minister the MRT system !

  13. Passen

    In the first place, why is Singapore importing all the communists from Eastern Europe, Russia, China, Vietnam ????

  14. Passen

    I heard Singapore ministries run like communist ministries ! With so many Ministers in each Ministry ?

  15. Passen

    If Singaporeans can travel to Norway with our low pay, nobody would be unhappy to earn the much Higher Norway salary and stay there because it is much more affordable with the much higher Norway salary.

  16. Passen

    Just let Singaporeans have that Higher Norway Salaries and no Singaporeans would complain about the Norway cost of living which is lower than Singapore !

  17. james kay

    CPF isn’t tax. It’s forced savings, which I suppose can count as a form of social security.

    Also, it’s misleading to call it 37% of salary. It’s 20% of salary + 16% additional from the employer. In percentage terms as a cost to employer or real wage, it’s 36/116 or 31% of wages in a forced savings account.

    Income tax starts at 2% for which the low income earner making $1000 a month pays roughly $180 ($12000 – $3000 relief x 2%). This is a back of envelope calculation, so it will be more or less, but certainly not by much.

    Not saying that it’s cheap to live in Singapore, as healthcare and housing are pricey, but distorting facts is just wrong. The wage imbalance is also frightening, and should be addressed so all segments of society get a fair shake.

    • Celine

      Roy, thanks for sharing the info. It explains why the poor is growing in numbers now, as I see more parents asking for help in the forum. I hv bookmarked it.

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  24. Hardeep Saini

    Hi Roy,
    I just don’t know where you get the time to do all this research.
    It is enlightening to read your articles.
    If you were doing similar work in Australia everyone, even the critics, would admire your work.
    But than again, Australia is not a divided country like Singapore.
    Those criticizing your very good work do not realise what damage they are doing to free speech.
    If these people are only attacking you because they are aligned to the PAP than by doing so they are causing much more damage to the reputation of the Singapore government.
    Your articles have two very important effects on the reader:
    1. Those sitting on the fence may have a better understanding through your articles and WILL switch their votes.
    2. Those having doubts about the direction of your government will have those doubts removed and can now make an “informed” decision during the next general elections.
    In short, your web site will eventually have a profound effect on the voting patterns of the electorate.
    The more convincing your articles, the more people will decide with their votes and the more personal the attacks on you.
    Keep up the good work.
    You know that you are succeeding in your endeavours when the attacks on you get more and more personal.

  25. Lye

    misleading “facts”…. the truth is 80% of Singaporeans are happy with what we have and 20% of “You”s are unhappy with what you dun hv…

  26. Mayflower

    FriforSnus may well be Roy’s imaginary friend to bounce off ideas with. One whose sentence-structures are fairly Singaporean, spelling mistakes are haphazard. Just a fake sounding board so that Roy can pretend he is answering FriforSnus’ queries on Singapore. Low blow…

  27. stupidRy

    Roy is trying to be stupid HERO. stop sending negative and wrong facts.
    1. CPF cannot be equalized as income tax. You can’t use income tax to pay housing loan. CPF allows you to use partial of cpf saving to pay housing loan. Also, CPF covers heathcare/medicare too.

  28. Y M

    Dude, out of so many countries why do you only choose to compare it against Norway? Is your comparison fair? Were the subjects of similar background? Like what some has mentioned Norway had natural resources. Singapore is a country where its only resource is Singapore. Selectively showing your statistics is misleading. You only show the good points what about the cons? Tax system in both countries? Etc. Your comparison is biased and unjust.

  29. Ong JL

    this is total rubbish, with the intent to mislead and confuse, and no consideration with the REALITY.
    Norway has built it funds from its HUGH oil and natural resources reserves per capita, Singapore has no such resources. Please make this comparison with Malaysia since Singapore’s independence and see how Singapore has done.

    and….Please stop spoiling the Singapore name, with such rubbish content. you are a disgrace

  30. Vance

    I had read the post and comment. I felt that this article is not incorrect, but you had intentionally tuned the result to make the user believe what you write. These are method we use in our work at advertising. Firstly is the selection of comparison, the brand and type of food in this article are not correct. I had stayed in Norway for 2 years and the bread you posted really sucks.

    Secondly, the graph you used is wrong. Graph are visual representation of figure, but you had purposely change the graph line to start at a higher figure making the difference seems larger.

    Lastly, you had employed the use of phantom comment. We paid people to do that just for your knowledge. Given a normal blog post, most people will not comment a ton when they agree with your view. Reader will comment the most when they disagree. Please use this method with caution and only when required.

    I had friends in Norway and they pay really high tax. I believe you had worked in Singapore and you should know that those low income working in your article earning $1,000 do not pay tax at all. I might have a lot of poor friends as they are not earning as high as you had posted. I should tell them to change to a better job, maybe a cleaner?

    I always feel that Singapore is really crowded, so maybe you would like to think of leaving this country forever as I think we will still do alright without you. Not great, but just alright. 🙂

  31. Reidar

    Dear Roy. I think your intention with this comparison was reasonably good. You could pull out a large amount of good conclusions out of the analysis. However, if you had spent more time ensuring the information is correct, the report would have been so much more credible. I am a Norwegian who has lived 10 years in Singapore, and I find so much inaccurate data (some of the prices), unreasonable comparisons (i.e. comparing tax and CPF+tax) and easy conclusions that harms the actual message. That is too bad, as I think the message is partially correct. It is very interesting reading though, and if you invest more time on it to make it accurate it could be a good analysis. Note that Norway and Singapore are almost the opposites in terms of starting point. Norway is a country full of vast resources such as oil, fish, water, etc. while Singapore has nothing other than a good location, plenty of intellectual property and attractive investment climate. I am not so sure the Norwegian model would fit Singapore, though I totally agree the differences between the wealthy and poor (not sure if poor is really fair to say either) are way too large. And Singapore is definitively getting extremely expensive, at least if you wish a certain life style and a high level of living condition – and upwards.

  32. Norsk

    I’m from Norway and your comparison is ridiculous. You are comparing small bottles with big bottles, non-branded vs branded products, cheap quality vs luxury item. And regarding this apartment you chose as an example. I don’t know where that area is (I’m to lazy to google it). It is not however in the city centre. Also it is a 1-bedroom apartment – not a 2-bedroom apartment. I own an apartment in the city centre (Grünerløkka). It’s worth about 480.000 SGD. That is a fairly average looking 46sqm 1 bedroom apartment. 350.000SGD would get you a 30-35sqm studio or small 1 bedroom apartment.

    So all that wall of text you wrote. Perhaps you have a few good points but what does it matter when you use these examples?

  33. leashed

    Thanks for the article. It was an interesting read. I think you’re comparing a pack of 25 diapers with a pack of 50 in your comparison photo though.

  34. Epicure

    CPF is Savings and not tax, hence the comparison is fundamentally flawed. Also the people in Singapore have choices to buy food at markets and food centres, and not supermarkets. Therefore food and daily essentials are lower than what is portrayed, not to mention the convenience, proximity and opening hours of shops in Singapore.

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  36. Paul

    An entire article comparing the economies of Norway and Singapore without mentioning. 1. Population density of Norway is several HUNDRED times less than Singapore: of course land and property is going to be much cheaper there. 2. The tremendous amounts of wealth generated by their oil and gas industry, which they can export almost 100% of, because they have enough hydroelectric power for their domestic energy needs….. Not very honest, Roy.

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  38. Bård Henriksen

    Norwegians now have higher unemployment and much more debt than singaporeans. Both in public and private sector. We also in Norway have much weaker healthcare and education systems, and the cost of welfare is increasing, yet there is exposed consultant fraud and other types of fraud and unnecessary cost in the system (leading Finland to seek Basic income). Anyhow it is probably more relevant to compare to more failed systems like USA, Russia and the undeveloped world. Scandinavia and Singapore have become largely successful. However Singapore did it without oil and gas. Norway only with. Before the oil adventures, Norway was poor and undeveloped. Oil industries are now becoming obsolete for several reasons, in the north of Europe.

  39. afiq

    Yes what you said are mostly true. However, Norway have a very high tax structure. If you minus taxes it wouldn’t be much different then Singapore

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