Singaporean workers are the whole point, not just helping businesses
The budgetary measures are meant to help Singaporean workers. Although businesses are receiving assistance, the purpose is really to help Singaporeans keep their jobs. Businesses should not be surprised to learn that requests that benefit companies only will not be approved.
Companies should not be surprised to learn that foreign worker levies will not be waived.
The Ministry of Manpower had clarified that such a move will run counter to the government’s two objectives:
To preserve local employment
To help Singapore become less reliant on foreign manpower for growth in the long run
Not only will there be no waiver, the effort to reduce reliance on foreign workers saw a new announcement: a cut in the quota for S Pass workers for three sectors: construction, marine shipyard and process. S Pass workers are mid-skilled foreigners earning at least $2,400 a month.
The focus is turning towards helping employers reach out to fresh graduates and mid-career employees switching jobs. Employers can also help by transforming their businesses and making such jobs more attractive.
“Waiving or cutting levies would blunt the motivation to restructure, improve job quality and become more manpower-lean. We would not have seen how industries can rise to the occasion,” said Minister of Manpower, Josephine Teo.
Instead, the Budget was full of mechanisms that contained ways to save jobs, sharpen skills for the future and make Singapore even better after the short-term turbulence is over. Long-term planning is one of the traits of this present government.
Workers will be getting assistance through the various SkillsFuture credit schemes to upgrade, up-skill, to stay employable and to stay relevant in the industry.
Businesses on the other hand will receive job and cash flow support the purpose of retaining and retrain workers. With this package and together with the Company Training Committees, companies are in better position to hold off retrenchments and will be able to afford to keep jobs and train workers at the same time.
The mechanics of the budget can only be worked out only in conjunction with people on the ground I.e. the trade unions. Patrick Tay of the NTUC quoted the following on his Facebook post: “…many union leaders, workers as well as my grassroots leaders and residents have shared positive feedback about this year’s Budget. At a personal level, I am sure the Stabilisation and Support Package announced at Budget 2020 will be a boon to both businesses and workers, as it provides assurance and support in this time of economic uncertainty and ensure every worker matters and every job counts.”
Even when the economic landscape is uncertain, the lives of Singaporeans and the outlook for Singapore is not. Not many countries can do this and it is something that certainly I am appreciative of.