Singapore

SINGAPORE: The Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) has appealed to the government for increased support to mitigate enterprises’ escalating wage cost pressures. The request was made as part of SNEF’s official proposals for the 2024 Budget.

Representing 3,500 members, SNEF’s Budget 2024 Proposal encompasses measures aimed at easing wage costs, fostering new capabilities, boosting productivity, and facilitating foreign-local capability transfers. The organization maintains that these initiatives align with national priorities of strengthening the social compact, building resilience, and developing a competitive and sustainable economy with ample employment opportunities.

A recent SNEF poll revealed that three in four employers anticipate higher wage costs in 2024 due to changes in the Central Provident Fund (CPF). Consequently, the organization proposed an extension of the CPF Transition Offset (CTO)2 and transitional support to increase the CPF monthly salary ceiling. SNEF emphasized that these measures would assist employers in managing rising wage costs while enhancing retirement adequacy, particularly for senior workers.

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SNEF also addressed concerns related to expanding the Progressive Wage Model (PWM) and introducing the Occupational Progressive Wages (OPW). While acknowledging the effectiveness of the Progressive Wage Credit Scheme (PWCS), SNEF called for the co-funding levels for both PWCS tiers to remain consistent with 2023 levels, with an extension of the scheme until 2030.

This proposal aims to alleviate wage cost pressures for employers as they contribute to the broader goal of a robust social compact.

Moreover, SNEF members expressed a need for increased government support to upskill and reskill the workforce. In addition to existing measures like the SkillsFuture Enterprise Credit (SFEC), SNEF advocated higher absentee payroll and course fee funding, facilitating affordable training for workers in a rapidly evolving job market.

Recognizing the importance of driving productivity amidst rising wages, SNEF urged better-subsidized training for AI-related courses and introduced specific grants to encourage corporate adoption of AI. This move is anticipated to empower local businesses to innovate and position themselves strategically in the evolving global economy.

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The SNEF survey also highlighted the demand for government support in the transfer of capability from foreign workers to local counterparts. SNEF proposed an increase in funding and duration for the Capability Transfer Programme (CTP), emphasizing its role in enhancing the skills and capabilities of the local workforce, thereby boosting productivity, innovation, and competitiveness.

Committing to work with tripartite partners to facilitate business success, SNEF President Dr Robert Yap said, “As we press on with economic restructuring and business transformation to build capabilities and seize opportunities in a new era of global development, we hope that Budget 2024 will continue to include measures to help employers thrive.”