Singapore—The Secretary-General of the Workers’ Party (WP), Pritam Singh, has called for rebates and reliefs for firms that provide upskilling for mid-career Singaporeans that have been affected by the present economic crisis.
Speaking on the Fortitude Budget on June 5 in Parliament, the WP leader acknowledged what Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat has been saying, that the country is in for tough economic times ahead, and that while the Government has provided financial assistance to both households and companies so far, Mr Heng had added that “government cannot carry businesses forever.”
WP Sec-Gen Pritam Singh Fortitude Budget speech covered the economy, the Government’s communication efforts during COVID-19 and engaging Singaporeans especially critics to envision better policymaking in future. Referring to DPM’s Heng Speech where it had been stated that Government could not “carry business forever” and that tough economic times were expected ahead, Mr Singh called for rebates and reliefs for businesses and companies that offered traineeships and opportunities for mid-career Singaporeans to learn new skills and embark on new careers.A major plank of his speech, Mr Singh noted the public’s perception that the Government’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis had “certainly not included adjectives more common associated with the Singapore Government – such as clarity and decisiveness.” Providing examples, he added that the public were confused with many piecemeal announcements and U-turns. This lack of clarity was also felt by many Singaporean businesses, and many felt as if no one in Government was taking ownership of how COVID-19 directives would be perceived, interpreted or understood on the ground.Finally, seeing that COVID-19 crisis had resulted in many Singaporeans responding positively and volunteering to support those in need, Mr Singh called on the Government to work more closely with critics and NGOs for better policymaking, citing the lobbying of groups that had highlighted concerns about migrants workers in the past. He called for Government to open more avenues like Parliament for citizen engagement, greater data-sharing and the empowerment of institutions like think-tanks and the mainstream media as Singapore traversed the post COVID 19 volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) world.Read Pritam's full speech here https://www.wp.sg/framing-the-fortitude-budget-economy-engagement-and-empathy-by-pritam-singh/Vid Credit: CNA
Posted by The Workers' Party on Saturday, June 6, 2020
Mr Pritam noted that therefore, companies would soon have to underwrite the salaries of their workers. He said that the business people he has spoken to have endeavoured to keep their employees for as long as possible under the Jobs Support Scheme (JSS), despite pay cuts and no-pay leaves.
However, with the end of the JSS, retrenchments are sure to follow, the WP chief said.
He added that the WP supports the Government’s efforts to upskill and digitalize, as this is vital for the country’s future, and underlined how important job training that adds additional skills to workers is.
Mr Pritam also called initiatives such as the new SGUnited Mid-Career Traineeships “an important source of hope for those Singaporeans who have lost their jobs or will lose their jobs.”
Therefore he expressed the hope that more incentives would be given to companies that provide training in new skills for mid-career Singaporeans.
“On mid-career workers, I hope the government incentivises more companies and businesses, through rebates or reliefs, to offer more of such traineeships and opportunities to mid-career Singaporeans to learn new skills and embark on new careers,” he said.
In his speech, Mr Pritam also commented on the perception from the public that the way the Government had handled the coronavirus crisis had “certainly not included adjectives more commonly associated with the Singapore Government – such as clarity and decisiveness.” He gave emphasis to how many Singaporeans had gotten confused with the reversals in announcements, some of which had been made in piecemeal fashion.
He said, “For example, there is a broadly accepted view that the public should have been told early and clearly, and not through illegal recordings behind closed doors for example, that universal masking would prove to be a challenge in view of supply constraints, requiring the Government to prioritize our healthcare and other essential workers. To this end, straight-talk – especially on Singapore’s limitations and shortcomings in managing the crisis – did not always define official government communication on COVID-19.”
For his third point, Mr Pritam called upon the Government to collaborate in a more effective fashion not only with NGOs but even with those who are critical of its policies.
“Moving forward Government should look at opening more avenues like Parliament for citizen engagement, greater data-sharing and empower other institutions like our think-tanks and the mainstream media to give alternate perspectives more voice and even provide platforms piloting change on a small scale. As we traverse the post-COVID-19 VUCA – volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous – world, we need to place more faith and promote even greater participation from Singaporeans than ever before,” he said. —/TISG