Time for Global Zero's Nukeout

20 years after the Cold War, NATO still has 200 US nukes in Europe. It’s time we got the world back on track to zero nuclear weapons.

As a founding member of the board of Global Zero, an international movement aiming for a world without nukes, we have done a lot of research into the nuclear weapon issue. The evidence is overwhelming that nukes are dangerous, useless and expensive. What’s more, by removing nukes from Europe we could clear the road for the US and Russia to agree on unprecedented cuts to their arsenals, which now represent more than 90% of the nuclear weapons on the planet.

President Obama, who endorses Global Zero, has declared abolition of these weapons to be a long-term policy goal for the US. Some progress has been made so far, but – as a former commander of the United States’ nuclear forces said in the New York Times this week – the US must push ahead with further cuts. Everyone knows every single US ICBMs are a security breech and are sitting ducks waiting to be shot down.

On May 20th, world leaders will meet at the NATO Summit in Chicago, where the future of hundreds of US nuclear weapons deployed in Europe is on the agenda.

It’s time to get these relics of a bygone age out of Europe, and we can all help make it happen. Sign Global Zero’s NukesOut petition to urge the leaders of NATO countries to get nukes out of Europe.
By Richard Branson. Founder of Virgin Group

Google's Knowledge Graph

 

Google has just launched Knowledge Graph, the latest refinement to its search engine product that seeks to provide users with more relevant and in-depth responses to search queries. The company actually started testing this new interface last week, but now its ready to take the wraps off its new method for connecting search queries to information-rich topics on people, places, or things. Along with the standard search results you’re used to seeing, Google’s search results page now displays instant results related to your queries — a search for Taj Mahal immediately brings up a list of facts, photos, and a map of the famous landmark, as well as quick links to other popular uses of the search term (like the musician or the casino in New Jersey). There are a multitude of sources behind this data — Google cites Freebase, Wikipedia, and the CIA World Factbook, but also notes that “it’s augmented at a much larger scale” and tuned based on what the average user searches for. Google’s goal is to get you to the information you’re looking for in fewer clicks, while also increasing the relevancy of what you see when searching, and there are three main innovations the company is highlighting. Knowledge Graph results seek to remove the ambiguity from typical search results by presenting different segments of results with one click — so if you’re looking for Taj Mahal, the musician (and not the landmark), you can just click over instantly to tell Google which segment of search results you’re looking for. There’s also new summary info, which might keep a lot of people from having to click through to Wikipedia. Google gave the example of Marie Curie — when doing a search for the scientist, Knowledge Graph brings up a photo, birth and death dates, and a list of her major discoveries and education. It doesn’t have the in-depth information WIkipedia has, but it may save a few clicks when you’re just searching for a quick bit of information. Lastly, Knowledge Graph seeks to present information that users commonly look for after making a search, letting users easily drill down into a subject to find deeper information. For example, Google notes that the information Knowledge Graph shows when searching for Tom Cruise answers 37 percent of the next search queries made about him. Google also shows other common searches that other people made when searching for your term — kind of like Amazon’s “other people who shopped for “X” also liked…” features. Google’s calling this the first “baby step” towards a “Star Trek Computer” future, but it sounds like one of the bigger innovations the company has rolled out to its core product in some time (though it reminds us a lot of what Wolfram Alpha is trying to do, as well). For those who search on-the-go, Google’s also gradually rolling this out to Android 2.2 and higher and iOS 4, both in the browser and in dedicated search apps. Unfortunately, we’re not yet seeing the Knowledge Engine live — Google says this new feature is gradually rolling out to US English users, with no word on when exactly it’ll make its way to other countries. This article originally appeared on theverge.com as Google launches Knowledge Graph, a new intelligent search platform .

MetaData RDF/XML/XMP? I need a proper standard for my 3D search engine

Rather than integrate RDF into the architecture of a tool from the ground up, as occurred with the previous applications discussed in this chapter, other companies are incorporating RDF and RDF/XML into their existing applications. Adobe, a major player in the publications and graphics business, is one such company. Its RDF/XML strategy is known as XMP?eXtensible Metadata Platform. According to the Adobe XMP web site, other major players have agreed to support the XMP framework, including companies such as Microsoft.

XMP focuses on providing a metadata label that can be embedded directly into applications, files, and databases, including binary data, using what Adobe calls XMP packets?XML fragments that can be embedded regardless of recipient format. Regardless of where the material is moved or located, the data contained in the embedded material moves with it and can be accessed by external tools using the XMP Toolkit. Adobe has added support for XMP to Photoshop 7.0, Acrobat 5.0, FrameMaker 7.0, GoLive 6.0, InCopy 2.0, InDesign 2.0, Illustrator 10, and LiveMotion 2.0.

The information included within the embedded labels can be from any schema as long as it’s recorded in valid RDF/XML. The XMP source code is freely available for download, use, and modification under an open source license.

Unlike so much of the RDF/XML technology, which emphasizes Java or Python, the XMP Toolkit provides only support for C++. Specifically, the toolkit works with Microsoft’s Visual C++ in Windows (or compatible compiler) and Metrowerks CodeWarrior C++ for the Mac.

Within the SDK is a subdirectory of C++ code that allows a person to read and write XMP metadata. Included in the SDK is a good set of documentation that provides samples and instructions on embedding XMP metadata into TIFF, HTML, JPEG, PNG, PDF, SVG/XML, Illustrator (.ai), Photoshop (.psd), and Postscript and EPS formats.

The SDK is a bit out of date in regard to recent activities with RDF and RDF/XML. For instance, when discussing embedded RDF/XML into HTML documents, it references a W3C note that was favorable to the idea of embedding of RDF/XML into HTML. However, as you read in Chapter 3, recent decisions discourage the embedding of metadata into (X)HTML documents, though it isn’t expressly forbidden.

The SDK contains some documentation, but be forewarned, it assumes significant experience with the different data types, as well as experience working with C++. The document of most interest is the Metadata Framework PDF file, specifically the section discussing how XMP works with RDF, as well as the section on extending XMP with external RDF/XML Schemas. This involves nothing more than defining data in valid RDF and using a namespace for data not from the core schemas used by XMP. The section titled “XMP Schemas” lists all elements of XMP’s built-in schemas.

The SDK also includes C++ and the necessary support files for the Metadata Library, as well as some other utilities and samples. I dusted off my rarely used Visual C++ 6.0 to access the project for the Metadata Toolkit, Windows, and was able to build the library without any problems just by accessing the project file, XAPToolkit.dsw. The other C++ applications also compiled cleanly as long as I remembered to add the paths for the included header files and libraries.

One of the samples included with the SDK was XAPDumper, an application that scans for embedded RDF/XML within an application or file and then prints it out. I compiled it and ran it against the SDKOverview.pdf document. An excerpt of the embedded data found in this file is:

<rdf:Description rdf:about=''
xmlns:pdf='http://ns.adobe.com/pdf/1.3/'>
Acrobat Distiller 5.0.5 for Macintosh





Embedding RDF/XML isn’t much different than attaching a bar code to physical objects. Both RDF and bar codes uniquely identify important information about the object in case it becomes separated from an initial package. In addition, within a publications environment, if all of the files are marked with this RDF/XML-embedded information, automated processes could access this information and use it to determine how to connect the different files together, such as embedding a JPEG file into an HTML page and so on.

I can see the advantage of embedded RDF/XML for any source that’s loaded to the Web. Eventually, web bots could access and use this information to provide more intelligent information about the resources that they touch. Instead of a few keywords and a title as well as document type, these bots could provide an entire history of a document or picture, as well as every particular about it.

Other applications can also build in support for working with XMP. For instance, RDF Gateway, mentioned earlier, has the capability of reading in Adobe XMP. An example of how this application would access data from an Adobe PDF would be:

var monsters = new
DataSource("inet?url=http://burningbird.net/articles/monsters3.pdf&parse
type=xmp");

An important consideration with these embedded techniques is that there is no adverse impact on the file, nothing that impacts on the visibility of a JPEG or a PNG graphic or prevents an HTML file from loading into a browser. In fact, if you’ve read any PDF files from Adobe and other sites that use the newer Adobe products, you’ve probably been working with XMP documents containing embedded RDF/XML and didn’t even know it.

Creative Commons License applies thruout all my websites except for those I intend to patent

Creative Commons license are based on copyright. So they apply to all works that are protected by copyright law. The kinds of works that are protected by copyright law are books, websites, blogs, photographs, films, videos, songs and other audio & visual recordings, for example. Software programs are also protected by copyright but, as explained in the FAQ, we strongly recommend that you do not apply a Creative Commons license to software.
Creative Commons licenses give you the ability to give express permission for others to use your copyrighted works—such as the right of others to copy your work, make derivative works or adaptations of your work, to distribute your work and/or make money from your work. They do not give you the ability to restrict anything that is otherwise permitted by exceptions or limitations to copyright—including, importantly, fair use or fair dealing—nor do they give you the ability to control anything that is not protected by copyright law, such as facts and ideas.
Creative Commons licenses attach to the work and authorize everyone who comes in contact with the work to use it consistent with the license. This means that if Bob has a copy of your Creative Commons-licensed work, Bob can give a copy to Carol and Carol will be authorized to use the work consistent with the Creative Commons license. You then have a license agreement separately with both Bob and Carol.
Creative Commons licenses are expressed in three different formats: the Commons Deed (human-readable code), the Legal Code (lawyer-readable code); and the metadata (machine readable code). You don’t need to sign anything to get a Creative Commons license—just select your license at our ‘License’ page.
One final thing you should understand about Creative Commons licenses is that they are all non-exclusive. This means that you can permit the general public to use your work under a Creative Commons license and then enter into a separate and different non-exclusive license with someone else, for example, in exchange for money.

Do the ported licenses contain special terms depending on which one you choose?

As a licensor, you should always know what the terms of the specific license you are applying provides in advance. This is true whether or not you choose a ported or international license. Our porting process involves adapting the international licenses to the legal framework of different jurisdictions, and in that process slight adjustments may have been made that impact license choice.
A handful of the 3.0 ported licenses (as well as pre-3.0 ported licenses) contain provisions specifying which laws will apply in the event the licensor chooses to enforce the license, and one 3.0 ported license suite (the Hong Kong license suite) and a few of the ported pre-3.0 ported licenses contain a forum selection clause.
Before choosing a ported license, you are encouraged to review the legal code carefully. You may also want to access the jurisdiction database to search for licenses that contain choice of law and/or other terms and conditions that you may find relevant to your license selection. 
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I can create an idea a day, solve solutions within an hour, why should I hold everyone back from ideas I do not want to bring into the markets, therefore I will apply a Creative Commons License thruout all my websites, unless those I intend to patent, everyone can use to copy, modify and make money freely from my ideas, just give me credit will do. But if you intend to commercialise my ideas to make profits from products and you require me to work on it, it is only fair if I share 50/50 with you, minus your costs. If there are any queries, you can sent an email to gilberttants@gmail.com 

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License

There should not be any Secret Swiss Bank accounts

European Union

Pressure on Switzerland has been applied by several states and international organizations attempting to alter the Swiss privacy policy. The European Union, whose member countries geographically surround Switzerland, has complained about member states’ nationals using Swiss banks to avoid taxation in their home countries. The EU has long sought a harmonized tax regime among its member states, although many Swiss banking officials (and, according to some polls, the public) are resisting any such changes.[1]
However, Switzerland did not want to be seen as an obstacle to closer tax cooperation among EU-member states and decided to support the international efforts to adequately tax cross-border investment income. The retention tax agreed with the European Union (EU) in the taxation of savings income agreement is a suitable and efficient means of doing so. The EU is committed to eliminating existing loopholes in the system of taxation of savings income. Switzerland has expressed to the EU its willingness in principle to correspondingly adjust the taxation of savings income. Here it should be noted that Switzerland has adopted the OECD standard on administrative assistance and that the Federal Council rejects the automatic exchange of information.[28] Since July 1, 2005, Switzerland has charged a withholding tax on all interest earned in the personal Swiss accounts of European Union residents.
Switzerland is not a member of the European Union but, since December 2008,[29] is a part of the Schengen agreement.

United States

Swiss bank accounts cannot be opened without the holder signing a legal document asserting that they have no outstanding financial obligations to the IRS. Despite this, Swiss banks have been criticized for improperly shielding tax evaders.
In January 2003, the United States Department of Treasury announced a new information-sharing agreement under the already extant U.S.-Swiss Income Tax Convention;[30] the agreement was intended to facilitate more effective tax information exchange between the two countries.[31] However, Swiss policy has continued to come under international criticism, and in March 2009 Switzerland agreed to renegotiate more effective tax cooperation with the United States and other countries.[32]

Money laundering

There are several measures in place to counter money laundering. The Money Laundering Act sets forth requirements of account holders’ identification, and requires reporting of any suspicious transactions to the Money Laundering Reporting Office.[33]
According to the CIA World Factbook, Switzerland is “a major international financial center vulnerable to the layering and integration stages of money laundering; despite significant legislation and reporting requirements, secrecy rules persist and nonresidents are permitted to conduct business through offshore entities and various intermediaries…”[34] However, Switzerland’s cooperation in transnational financial issues has been praised by several major U.S. officials. A Federal Bureau of Investigation anti-terrorism official noted that Switzerland was one of several countries to participate in joint task forces targeting financing of Al-Qaeda terrorist cells; a former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury praised Swiss cooperation and the country’s assistance in the finding and freezing of terrorist and Iraqi assets.[35]

Numbered bank accounts

Main article: Numbered bank account

Some bank accounts are afforded an extra degree of privacy. Information concerning such accounts, known as numbered accounts, is restricted to senior bank officers, rather than being accessible to all the employees of a bank. However, the information required to open such an account is no different from that of an ordinary account; completely anonymous accounts are not allowed by law. Should a criminal investigation take place, law enforcement has access to information related to a numbered account in the same way it has access to information about any other account.[36
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All my work all leads to secret Swiss Bank accounts where criminals hide their monies to avoid detection, all kinds of high ranking government officials are involved in corruption where money laundering is done without a twinkling of the eye, organised crime and terrorist groups all over the world will not bat an eye unless this secrecy is removed, giving government officials and high members of the UN access to this information. It will reveal a shocking list of crimes committed by people you can never imagine across the entire world by following the money path. 
– Contributed by Oogle.

The Minefields of Patents

Torrent of legal suits between tech firms reflects a system running amok and threatens to stifle ideas
By Richard Waters 04:45 AM May 16, 2012

Judith Masthoff, a Dutch researcher in artificial intelligence, was a doctoral student in the mid-1990s when she came up with her first invention.
The outline of the idea – a way of “enabling a user to fetch a specific information item from a set of information items” – hardly hinted at the starring role her brainwave would play in the legal battles sweeping through the technology industry.
Ms Masthoff still remembers the excitement she felt writing her patent application, one of the first in the software field for Philips, the Dutch electronics company to which she assigned the work. Providing a form of personalisation, it was an early attempt to help users make sense of the flood of online information, a critical issue for many websites.
But she lost track of it as her career moved on and only recently discovered that her application had eventually been approved in 2001.
The idea – now known as US patent number 6,216,133 – has been on a long journey since then. It was sold to the subsidiary of an American company that deals in intellectual property before finding its way, late last year, to its current owner: Facebook.
It is now playing a prominent role in the social network’s first big legal fight. It is the oldest of 10 patents the company used last month to mount a legal action against Yahoo! – a counterstroke against a patent infringement suit brought by the Internet search and media company this year.
COLOSSAL WASTE OF MONEY
Depending on your point of view, Facebook’s ability to co-opt old ideas such as this to defend itself against an assault on the legal foundations of its business could be a sign that, in an economy increasingly based on ideas, an efficient market in intellectual property is at work.
Alternatively, it indicates that the system is running amok, threatening to suffocate the innovation that makes breakthrough ideas such as Facebook’s social network possible in the first place.
With suits flying among some of the best-known tech names, companies such as Facebook, Apple, Google and Microsoft have been forced to spend heavily in the past year or so to arm themselves legally, in turn pushing up prices for patents such as Ms Masthoff’s as they change hands.
In the smartphone business alone – centre of much of the action – US$15 billion (S$18.8 billion) to US$20 billion has been spent buying patents, with legal bills reaching US$500 million on a “conservative estimate”, says Professor Mark Lemley of Stanford Law School.
It is hard to find anyone in the industry or in legal circles prepared to argue this is anything other than a colossal waste of money.
“It’s highly inefficient and antithetical to what patents are meant to achieve,” says Mr David Martin, chairman of M-Cam, a US patent analysis company. Lawsuits such as those brought by Yahoo! are “a de facto utility charge on someone else’s business success”, he adds.
Worse, the rising costs faced by companies arming themselves against legal attack could hamper innovation. Those that cannot pay this new “tax” risk being in effect barred from competing in the most promising new areas, such as smartphones.
WORTH MORE DEAD THAN ALIVE
Patent battles in tech – and the costs of building a strong intellectual property position – are not new. In recent years, executives have complained about the emergence of “trolls”, companies set up specifically to buy patents and mount opportunistic lawsuits against successful groups.
But proof of dramatic new forces at work came nearly a year ago, when patents owned by Nortel Networks, a bankrupt Canadian telecoms equipment maker, were auctioned for US$4.5 billion. The price, five times higher than initial estimates, showed Nortel was worth more dead than alive.
Having lost out in this case – and been left in a weak patent position compared with Apple and Microsoft, which were among the auction’s winners – Google agreed six weeks later to pay US$12.5 billion for Motorola Mobility, mainly to get its hands on the telecoms group’s intellectual property.
Behind these deals lay a rash of suits over smartphones, as Apple, Samsung, Microsoft and others angled for advantage in the sector’s biggest new market since the advent of the personal computer. Along with a spate of other transactions leading to Microsoft’s US$1.1billion purchase of patents from AOL last month, they reflect “a perfect storm” in tech patent circles, says Mr Ron Laurie of Inflexion Point, which advises on patent sales.
On one side are cash-rich companies, including Apple, Google and Microsoft, with the wherewithal and incentive to pay large amounts for legal protection.
On the other is a group of former stars forced to turn prized intangible assets into cash. They include bankrupt companies such as Nortel and Eastman Kodak, whose digital imaging patents are expected to end up being among its most valuable holdings, as well as struggling concerns such as Motorola and AOL, both of which came under pressure from activist shareholders to jump on the patent-sale bandwagon.
Companies in decline could yet shed their reluctance to take legal action against those once considered potential partners.
Yahoo! went as far as preparing a lawsuit against Google in 2006 over its core search technology, according to someone familiar with the initiative, but called it off after senior managers shrank from the business risks. Now, as Yahoo’s position in the search market falls further, a new management group with little to lose has landed a blow against Facebook in the Masthoff case.
ONE VIEW: MARKET AT WORK
There are various explanations for the escalation in both lawsuits and patent sales. To some, they are the by-product of an inevitable shift in the tech world, with intellectual property assuming its rightful central place in an economy revolving around ideas.
According to this view, the more active market for patents is bringing much-needed liquidity to intellectual property, helping it find its way to those best able to extract value.
When Microsoft immediately resold part of its new AOL patent holding to Facebook last month for US$550 million, recycling dotcom-era ideas into the hands of the latest internet company to transfix Wall Street, it seemed a fitting confirmation of how industry leadership has been transferred.
Supporters of this view argue that aggressive legal actions and high prices are often symptoms of a market – albeit an imperfect one – at work.
A wave of start-ups has been launched on the idea that the “ideas economy” needs a stronger infrastructure and new approaches to make the market work better. It includes Intellectual Ventures, which aims to foster invention by separating the creation and patenting of ideas from their commercialisation; and RPX, which buys patents for defensive purposes on behalf of its customers.
Critics, however, claim such businesses lubricate a system that encourages litigation and forces companies to buy protection against opportunistic lawsuits.
NEW MARKETS SYNDROME
A second view holds that the outbreak of legal hostilities simply reflects the inevitable upheaval from the emergence of big new markets.
The smartphone patent wars have become the clearest example of this, pitting companies from the computing and mobile communications worlds against each other for the first time. More than 250,000 patents, often overlapping, are potentially brought into play by smartphones drawing on technologies from several parts of the industry, according to RPX.
S
uch legal battles were seen with the emergence of the telegraph and the radio – and even mechanical farm equipment – as companies stake claims to the new markets. Eventually a stalemate is reached, and rivals conclude there is more to be gained from cross-licensing their ideas.
Whether that pattern will hold in smartphones – or in areas such as social networking and online advertising – has yet to be seen. “Maybe this time it isn’t a usual cycle,” says Prof Doug Lichtman of University of California, Los Angeles. “Patents are much more front and centre: People realise they can be sold and traded, they are much more visible.”
FUNDAMENTALLY BROKEN?
Another sign that a deeper change is occurring has been the rise in patent litigation in industries far removed from the latest hot tech markets, says Prof Meurer. Even relatively stable businesses such as food, cars and mining seem to be facing a secular increase in lawsuits, he adds.
That leads to a third explanation for the change in the patent world: That a systemic shift has taken place. The sheer number of lawsuits being filed, and the large amounts of money being thrown around to buy protection, suggest “there is something fundamentally broken here”, says Prof Lemley.
According to this view, long-running weaknesses in the approval process – making it too easy to obtain recognition for marginal or unoriginal ideas – lie at the heart of the problem, along with court decisions that have handed the advantage to plaintiffs.
If so, it could take years to fix: The US’s first legislation in this area in more than half a century, enacted last year, was widely seen as having brought only marginal improvement. It brought US filing procedures more into line with international practice, but limited the ability to bring nuisance lawsuits only modestly.
SPILLING INTO ONLINE WORLD
The cycle of lawsuits, meanwhile, is unlikely to abate: Rather, it shows every sign of being about to spill from the smartphone industry into the broader online world.
If Yahoo succeeds in extracting patent royalties from Facebook, for instance, it would almost certainly make similar claims against other Internet companies, particularly newcomers such as Twitter that lack significant patent holdings, according to one experienced litigator.
Others warn Facebook could soon face bigger legal challenges of its own. Amazon’s ownership of a seminal social networking patent predating Facebook’s own intellectual property in the area could leave the social network facing a lawsuit over its core business, says Mr Martin.
Amazon itself has risked a legal morass by branching beyond e-readers into mobile devices, such as the Kindle Fire, with a broader range of uses, another legal expert says. Lawyers will be rubbing their hands at the prospect.
For the inventors whose ideas set the whole system in motion, meanwhile, all of this conjures up a certain air of unreality.
“I’m interested in people using my ideas,” says Ms Masthoff, echoing the age-old cry of inventors everywhere – before adding, with resignation: “But then, of course, companies also have to protect their businesses.” The Financial Times Limited
Richard Waters heads the Financial Times’ San Francisco bureau.

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A Patent is just the registration of an idea that has little value unless it is brought to the markets to complete a product, where it’s instrinsic value is fully realised, then to protect your market share, it is a very valuable holding to exert your legal rights to prevent other’s from copying your ideas thru proper licensing, not as a barrier for innovations. Therefore not every Patent is valuable unless it is brought to the markets, by registration of an idea to prevent competition is the most stupid way to waste money, and existing laws cannot differentiate the value of Patents, combined with complexity of different markets, make patent laws very in-efficient for innovations.
A Patent has great value when it can derive an income from a potential market thru licensing and cross agreements, but if the market has passed, where will the value comes from? So there will always be a lifetime for patents, and after expiration the value is almost nil. Even Patents is subject to the laws of Demand and Supply eg would you buy an oldie song from the 60s, and collect royalties even though the licence has already expired? I would if there is a potential to make an income, but if there is no demand, I will stay far from it.
At times, unless the income justifies, I might just CC the license instead of patent.
A Creative Commons license is one of several copyright licenses that allow the distribution of copyrighted works. The licenses differ by several combinations that condition the terms of distribution. They were initially released on December 16, 2002 by Creative Commons, a U.S. non-profit corporation founded in 2001.
As of July 2011, Creative Commons licenses have been “ported” over 50 different jurisdictions worldwide. No new ports are being started as preparations for version 4.0 of the license suite begin.[1]

– Contributed by Oogle.

Majority of S'poreans 'will not be directly affected by inflation' – What an irresponsible statement from a Trade Minister (Who do you want to bluff?)

04:45 AM May 15, 2012

SINGAPORE – Headline inflation is expected to remain at 5 per cent for the next few months but the majority of Singaporean households will not be directly affected, said Trade and Industry Minister Lim Hng Kiang in Parliament yesterday.
This is because inflation is largely driven by imputed rentals from owner-occupied accommodation and car prices, and most Singaporean households own their own homes while new car buyers are in the minority, said Mr Lim.
However, analysts Today spoke to disagreed, citing spillover effects from these two components into other costs households and businesses face.
Mr Lim, who was responding to Members of Parliament (MPs) concerned about inflation, had highlighted a “slightly positive note” this year: Unlike in 2008, when food prices rose 8 per cent due to weather events and a global supply shortage, recent food price inflation has been lower.
Last year, food price rose by 3.1 per cent and in February and March this year, food prices remained at below 3 per cent. he said.
However, CIMB-GK Research economist Song Seng Wun pointed out that the average Singaporean will still feel the weight of inflation, as businesses facing spiralling costs pass that on to consumers.
The tight labour market has pushed wages up, while rentals for commercial properties have only eased recently, resulting in higher business costs, he said.
“So when you go see a doctor at a clinic, or send your kids to a tuition centre, you notice you pay a little more,” said Mr Song.
OCBC economist Selena Ling agreed, noting the logistics sector has been hit by higher transport costs, which are passed on to customers across a wide range of sectors.
“It may be true to say COE (Certificate of Entitlement) premiums doesn’t affect most Singaporeans, but there’s a second and third round effect,” she said.
The Government would need to continue to create jobs and ensure wage growth to help the middle-income group keep pace with inflation, she said.
In Parliament, Mr Lim said the Government recognises that the rate of inflation is still higher than what was experienced historically and reiterated it was committed to help cushion the impact on households, such as through the U-Save rebates, which help to offset utility bills.
While MPs yesterday questioned if the Government could review its taxes and fees to address rising costs, Minister of State for Finance Josephine Teo sought to put its impact on inflation “in perspective”.
While headline inflation has increased 5.2 per cent over the past one year, government fees and charges accounted for 0.1 percentage points of inflation in March, she said. COEs, meanwhile, contributed 1.2 percentage points.
Acknowledging that a main cost driver has been the recent increases in the foreign worker levy, Mrs Teo reiterated that increases are necessary to manage Singapore’s dependence on foreign workers and support economic restructuring.