In the Committee of Supply debate for the Ministry of Manpower today, the office bearers shared an impressive myriad of schemes that they have undertaken to help the workers in our economy. I counted about 𝟯𝟬 𝘀𝗰𝗵𝗲𝗺𝗲𝘀, and we should appreciate the hard work that our civil servants are putting in.
However, it begs the question: why so many schemes are needed? I have stated in my Feb 25 speech that these “𝘀𝗵𝗼𝗿𝘁 𝘁𝗲𝗿𝗺, 𝗮𝗱 𝗵𝗼𝗰 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝘂𝗻𝗽𝗿𝗲𝗱𝗶𝗰𝘁𝗮𝗯𝗹𝗲” relief measures are very confusing for Singaporeans and will not allow them to plan for their future as independent and resilient individuals.
I have recommended a blanket 𝗹𝗶𝘃𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘄𝗮𝗴𝗲 of $1500 take-home pay as the 𝗺𝗶𝗻𝗶𝗺𝘂𝗺 level of compensation for local workers, which works out to a gross pay of $𝟮𝟬𝟱𝟱 per month. So, the annual package (incl. of one-month AWS) will be $𝟮𝟲,𝟳𝟭𝟱. This is such an easy-to-understand approach for the workers.
MOM in Parliament has provided a chart that purports to be the annual package of a landscape worker. The breakdown is as follows:
Annual base income 𝟏𝟕,𝟒𝟎𝟎
Special Employment Credit 1,000
Annual PWM Bonus 670
Workfare Income Supplement 3,100
Workfare Special Payment 3,000
Chas Subsidies 320
Care & Support Package 1,300
U-Save and GST Vouchers 780
Total package $𝟐𝟕,𝟓𝟕𝟎
The result is about the same – $26,715 vs $27,570 – but the Government has to do it with 𝘀𝗲𝘃𝗲𝗻 schemes which I am sure the workers have no idea what or why they are getting. Does the Government’s way encourage the work ethic and boost self-esteem better than a simple to understand living wage? You can’t help but wonder if the Government just wants to create additional work for itself.
I asked Minister Josephine Teo whether Singaporean workers were disadvantaged under the current MOM employment policies because:
𝗮. Foreign workers don’t have to contribute to CPF and therefore enjoy a 𝘄𝗮𝗴𝗲 𝗮𝗱𝘃𝗮𝗻𝘁𝗮𝗴𝗲 versus Singaporean workers (hence why I recommended the $1200 levy on EP holders).
𝗯. There is 𝗻𝗼 𝗾𝘂𝗼𝘁𝗮 for EP holders.
𝗰. There are 𝗻𝗼 𝘀𝗸𝗶𝗹𝗹𝘀 𝘁𝗿𝗮𝗻𝘀𝗳𝗲𝗿 or succession planning schemes to ensure that Singaporeans can eventually take over from their foreign counterparts.
In response, she said Singaporean workers were 𝙣𝙤𝙩 𝙙𝙞𝙨𝙖𝙙𝙫𝙖𝙣𝙩𝙖𝙜𝙚𝙙 as evidenced during the Covid-19 economic downturn when 185,000 foreign workers lost their jobs while Singaporean workers have a net gain in jobs (mostly trainees).
I leave it to you to judge whether she has justified her point below:
One point we are sure of is that the pressure on Singaporean workers will continue for now.