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14 policy suggestions for the future of S’poreans?

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By: Leong Sze Hian

I have been attending the almost monthly FOSG (Future of Singapore) public forums at the Agora, initiated and organised by Professor Tay Keng Soon.

They are very interesting discussions by notable Singaporeans like Toh Han Shih, Jack Sim, Donald Low, Yeoh Lam Keong, etc, about the future of Singapore – which got me thinking …In the last 20 years or so, I have written a few thousand articles, made a few hundred presentations, had a few hundred letters published in newspaper forums, etc.

Since most of the time – I am analysing statistics – I try not to talk too much about suggested solutions, as I feel that I am just an ordinary citizen who does not have access to the information, resources, etc, that may be needed to make meaningful policy suggestions.

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Well, for a change – here are my humble suggestions on what policies may need to be reviewed to make the lives of Singaporeans better, particularly for lower income Singaporeans – in the hope that my fellow Singaporeans may contribute their ideas and comments too, and enrich the policy review processes of our policy makers

1) Discontinue the issuance of S-Passes, with renewals of existing passes subject to the employer being able to show that they can’t get Singaporeans to fill the job

2) The issuance of new employment passes be subject to the employer being able to show that they can’t get Singaporeans to fill the job

3) All labour subsidies (such as wage credits) to encourage employers to employ Singaporeans, older Singaporeans, unemployed Singaporeans, etc, be paid directly to the employee, instead of to the employer

4) Workfare payouts to be mostly in cash, instead of to CPF

5) The National Jobs Bank should disclose statistics as to how many of the jobs actually went to Singaporeans

6) Change the eligibility criteria to buy HDB flats to a needs based criteria depending on current circumstances, instead of debarrment (or debarrment periods) based on ever owning any interest in private or commercial property, previous HDB interests, insufficient income at the time of delivery when it was already approved at the time of application, etc

7) Allow CPF to pay for HDB rental of one and two-room flats

8) Do not allow permanent residents (PRs) to buy HDB flats in the future, for all new HDB BTO flats purchased

9) Change the pricing formula for HDB BTO flats to construction costs plus 10 per cent profits, instead of charging land costs at market rates

10) Discontinue the policy of increasing the rental of HDB one and two-room rentees, once their household income increase to more than $800 a month

11) Allow downgrading from non-subsidised healthcare treatment to subsidised healthcare treatment, without the need for means testing

12) Gradually reduce and cap the total enrolment of non-Singaporean students (undergraduate and graduate) to 16 per cent in the public universities

13) Increase the interest rate on CPF accounts to the GIC’s historical annualised returns less one per cent

14) ComCare financial assistance eligibility criteria and quantum of financial assistance to be made transparent, and based on needs under current circumstances, rather than rules based criteria and time frames, and adjusted for inflation annually

I would be very grateful for your comments, feedback (especially criticism), suggestions, ideas, etc, on the above.

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