Singapore—In a Facebook post, a member of the youth arm of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP), the Young Democrats, commented on the national Budget announced by Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat in Parliament on Tuesday (Feb 16).
Mr Tan Kok Xuan questioned why only a small portion of the S$11 billion Covid-19 resilience package has been allocated for the needs of households and individuals, while the bulk is going toward “enterprises through wage subsidy schemes” whose effectiveness has yet to be proven.
He expressed concern for local small and medium enterprises (SMEs), which would be left without stimulation of consumption or rental control, as well as for the median income, as it would keep dropping in the absence of policies for wage control.
“The co-payment scheme and the lack of minimum wage means that companies have no incentive to maintain wage levels,” wrote Mr Tan, whose Facebook bio says is a Sociology and History double major at Nanyang Technological University.
He added that it is not unusual for there to be jobs that pay S$6 per hour, “if even that.”
Moreover, the could lead to a further rise in unemployment.
Mr Tan added that in contrast, it will be bigger enterprises that will have an advantage due to the Jobs Support Scheme (JSS), claiming that these are entities that are “often foreign-owned with Temasek backing”.
Meanwhile SMEs would hardly be helped by the 10 to 30 per cent wage subsidy, since they “face substantial pressure from rental and low consumption.”
Mr Tan then proposed that supply side policies “be supplemented by wage/labour and social policies that can assure a dignified standard of living.”
This would be for the benefit of the working and middle class, who do not have the same resources as the wealthy.
The working and middle class, he wrote, “have to suffice with working multiple jobs, in times where jobs are scarce.”
In his own reaction to SGBudget 2021, SDP politician Bryan Lim Boon Heng commended Mr Tan, saying he had rightly pointed out that “the Budget should not be used to bail out or prop up the GLCs (Government-Linked Companies). Indeed, we need a serious rethink on our labour & social policies.”
Mr Lim also wrote, “We believe in putting the money directly in the hands of the people- for that laid off air stewardess who can use the retrenchment benefits to put food on the table for her family & for that uncle who can use the retirement income to have that extra cup of coffee in the hawker centre.”
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