Has the government been listening to its citizens?
We look at the top 5 recommendations raised by the opposition, the tradeoffs of each recommendation and evaluate if the government has done enough for Singaporeans.
- Reduce foreign talent inflow
Tradeoff: If Singapore reduces foreign talent inflow, Singaporeans must be ready to face retrenchments from MNCs exiting Singapore for other countries which are more foreigner-friendly.
What has the G done: Work Passes and S Passes are subject to quotas and levies. The Fair Consideration Framework (FCF) and the National Jobs Bank aims to help Singapore PMEs get jobs before they are opened up to foreigners.
Our evaluation: The FCF has only been implemented for a year, but progress has not been fast enough for Singaporeans. The government should begin to review having a quota on Employment Passes for selected industries which repeatedly hire more foreigners over locals.
Source: Straits Times
- More handouts for the middle class
Tradeoff: Nothing comes for free, if the middle class wants more handouts, they can expect to pay more in other ways. The key is how to ensure the middle class has good jobs with decent wages.
What has the G done: Government has implemented tiered subsidies and/or transfers for Singaporean families based on income for costs such as housing, education, public transport, healthcare, income tax and property tax. The SkillsFuture initiative aims to help Singaporeans have updated skills and can get good jobs.
Our evaluation: As wages rise, the income ceilings should also rise. The SkillsFuture initiative cannot be a theoretical exercise helmed by the government, they should include unions and employers when planning the SkillsFuture programs for individual industries.
The government should also look into helping stay-at-home mums and retirees find part-time work, helping the physically and intellectually disabled integrate into the workforce and strengthening the role of TAFEP in pursuing discrimination cases.
- Singapore needs a National Minimum Wage
Tradeoff: There is no career and training path for workers to progress beyond the minimum wage. Businesses may choose to hire workers worth more than the minimum wage, increasing unemployment.
What has been done: The government has legislated a Progressive Wage Model put forth by the NTUC for cleaning, security and landscape industry. PMEs have an informal version of the Progressive Wage Model aka your career and training paths.
Our evaluation: The Progressive Wage Model has helped low wage workers in the cleaning, security and landscape industry get better wages with career paths mapped out for them. This forces other industries to pay their workers better or risk losing them to the 3 legislated industries.
The government, unions and employers should work more closely together to ensure that every worker has a career path mapped out and he is given the opportunity to rise up in his career.
- Town Councils should be returned to HDB to run
Tradeoff: All political parties will not be accountable to the residents of the ward who voted for them. Newbie politicians who are voted into Parliament get to manage national policies without first having the experience of managing town councils or the headache of implementing it through Ministries and statutory boards.
What has the G done: The government supports all Town Councils with a MND grant and grades the Town Councils annually.
Our evaluation: Town Councils should still be run by the party that wins the ward to ensure the winning party members are accountable to the residents.
However, the government could review how to smoothen the handing over process from one party to another and make it compulsory for financial statements to be published online in one source so that no party can accuse the other of having more or less than what they claimed.
Tradeoff: If Singaporeans have the right to withdraw all their CPF, does the government have the right to refuse using taxpayer money to support spendthrift Singaporeans who end up spending all their CPF retirement funds?
What has the G done: The CPF minimum sum has been reviewed and now there are 3 types of minimum sums depending on your retirement cash needs, instead of 1 flat minimum sum.
Our evaluation: The main issue is the average Singaporean’s lack of financial literacy, which tweaking or even removing the minimum sum will not solve.
MOE should review if financial literacy should be included in Upper Secondary curriculum to ensure Singaporeans get an early understanding of financial tools and good practices.