by Guo Jiajing, Sng Bing De and Chua Thiam Hao
Department of Economics
Background on the MOF Budget Quiz (Information obtained from http://www.nus-ens.com/events_MOFBudgetQuiz.htm and http://www.mof.gov.sg/budget_2010/budget_quiz.html)
The MOF Budget Quiz is an inaugural event held by MOF in collaboration with NUS Economics Society. It is an outreach programme to the public, specifically to promote greater awareness of the Budget and public financing issues among youths in Singapore. Questions for the Budget Quiz Challenge comprised of Economics questions (80%) and questions pertaining to Budget and Public Financing issues (20%). The economics questions covered topics across micro-economics and macro-economics, with a heavier emphasis on the latter.
13 teams from the different universities took part in the preliminary round which contained a 20-min MCQ session, a non-elimination flash round, and an elimination flash round.
4 teams eventually made it to the final. There were 2 teams from NUS and 1 team each from NTU and SMU. The final was even more intense with teams taking their places on stage to compete in three rounds of questions. The first round is the “Speed Round” which the team to press the buzzer first earns the right to answer the question. The second round is the “Step Round” and the objective is to be the first to reach the end of the 10 steps. Teams with the correct answer will progress up a step while teams with the wrong answer will fall back one step. The last round is the “Team Round” which teams will take turns to answers questions. Each team may also direct the questions to another team as part of their strategy. The scores from all three rounds will be computed to form the team’s overall score.
Eventually, the team comprising of Guo Jiajing, Sng Bing De and Chua Thiam Hao emerged champion. All three of them are NUS Economics Honours Years students and they were awarded with the MOF Budget Quiz Challenge Trophy 2010, individual plaques and $500 in cash prizes.
Our personal take:
Our preparation for the final was mainly through revising past Economics textbooks as well as the 2010 and 2009 Singapore Budget speeches and details. The workload was divided among the three of us in accordance with our strengths. For instance, Bing De is knowledgeable on the public finance issues so he took on the responsibility to do more research in the area. Similarly, Jiajing focused on the financial and international arena as these were his strengths. We also had a discussion on our strategy for each round. We ran through all possible scenarios and derived the optimal strategy is each of these situations. Furthermore, as all three of us were intensively preparing our Honours Thesis during the same period of time, we had to juggle our time well between the two priorities.
The questions for the final were on a wide area of topics: From the general Macroeconomics models to International Economics and public finances. A huge portion of the questions also tested our knowledge on the different sections of the Singapore Budget 2009 and 2010. The pressure during the final was very intense as we had to solve the questions within the time constraint imposed. Moreover, we had equal scores with the SMU team up till the middle of the second round. We managed to carve out a 20 point lead over them by the end of the second round but SMU repeatedly fought back and maintained the pressure on us. We managed to hold on this lead till the end and emerged Champion with a score of 155 points. SMU was a close second with 145 points.
At the end of the competition, we received the MOF Budget Quiz Challenge Trophy 2010 from the Guest of Honour, Mrs Lim Hwee Hua, Minister In Prime Minister’s Office And Second Minister For Finance And Transport. We were certainly glad to have represented the faculty and institution in an external competition and emerged victorious in it.
Reports on The Straits Times:
Razor TV Interview:
Official Website (With results of the Final):
NUS Economics Society Writeup:
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During the recent Ee Peng Liang Seminar on the Aged, NUS social work graduate Mr Ng Kok Hoe presented a paper, which highlighted that a Singaporean would draw between 8% and 26% of his last drawn salary from CPF at the age of 65. This fuelled a lively debate on the adequacy of CPF.
Mr Ng is a recipient of the Ee Peng Liang Memorial Fund Scholarship. He is currently pursuing a doctorate in social policy at the London School of Economics.
Read the full article here.
The Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) and the National University Singapore (NUS) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the establishment of the Council’s Short-Term Chair of Indian Studies at the NUS.
An official press release said the Chair would function under the aegis of the university’s Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS).
The MoU was signed by Mr Tsewang Namgyal, Deputy High Commissioner of India in Singapore on behalf of ICCR and Dr Brenda S A Yeoh, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) on behalf of the NUS on March 22.
Under the terms of agreement, ICCR, in consultation with the University, shall appoint a suitable Indian academician to hold the Chair for a period of one year. During his/her term, the Visiting Professor would contribute to the academic life of the University by engaging in teaching, research and mentoring at various levels. The Chair would commence from July, 2010. The MoU would remain valid for three years from 2010.
The NUS is a prestigious university with over 30,000 students of 100 countries from diverse social and cultural backgrounds, which make it an appropriate place to institute an India Chair, the release said.
The establishment of the Chair would be an important step in furthering ICCR’s larger mandate of fostering and strengthening educational and cultural bonds and towards enhancing academic knowledge and awareness about India, through exchange of academicians, it added.
View the original article here.
The NUS Department of Social Work held its inaugural Ee Peng Liang Seminar titled “Social Security and Support Issues for the Ageing Population” on 29 March 2010. The seminar was attended by academics as well as Economics and Social Work students from NUS, and graced by Guest-of-Honour Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, NUS Deputy President (Academic Affairs) and Provost Prof Tan Eng Chye and Chairman of National Kidney Foundation Mr Gerard Ee.
Outstanding NUS Social Work alumnus Mr Ng Kok Hoe was awarded the newly established Ee Peng Liang Memorial Fund Scholarship at the seminar where he also presented a paper titled “Singapore’s CPF: Unique and Adequate”. Mr Ng, who is currently pursuing his doctoral studies in Social Policy at the London School of Economics, touched on changes made to the CPF (Central Provident Fund) system in the last five years, and how they have affected the security of the retirement income available for older Singaporeans. He also discussed how to make retirement savings last longer in view of Singapore’s ageing population. The CPF is a compulsory savings scheme for Singaporeans to meet their needs in housing, healthcare, family protection and investment, and to ensure that they stay financially independent, even in retirement.
Click here to read the Straits Times coverage on Mr Ng’s paper, and the response to it.
Commenting on the CPF scheme in his speech, Dr Balakrishnan explained how the government was addressing the problem of an ageing population or “demographic tsunami”. He said, “We need to take a long-term view and plan ahead. We have four pillars to ensure our social security. They are the Central Provident Fund for retirement savings, home ownership, the 3Ms (Medisave, Medishield, Medifund) for healthcare, and Workfare. Fortunately, we start off in a good position,” Dr Balakrishnan said. The other discussant involved in the Q&A session was NUS Department of Economics Senior Fellow Dr Lee Soo Ann.
The Scholarship and Seminar Series were made possible by the Ee Peng Liang Memorial Fund in honour of the late Dr Ee who was known as Mr Charity for his contribution to the social service sector.