Among the measures announced in Singapore Budget 2013, the Government has said it will co-fund 40 per cent of wage increases given to Singaporean employees earning a gross monthly wage of up to $4,000 (starting from 2013). This is to provide support to businesses to raise workers’ wages through a new Wage Credit Scheme which will cost $3.6 billion over three years.
I have two questions – how will this money be funded, is it from tax-payers’ money? Secondly, is it right that for our government to use public funds to help private companies off-set wage increases? Something just doesn’t feel right about this unprecedented move.
This Wage Credit Scheme (WCS) is to support employers (who need not even apply for it to get it) and is part of the Quality Growth Scheme (QGS)to spur businesses to upgrade, provide better jobs and raise wages, while making do with fewer foreign workers. I am all for the goals of the QFS, but to actually provide cash to the businesses in this manner is not the right way to encourage them to become better pay masters. What happens after the WCS’ three-year period ends? Will the government give more money again by extending the scheme? And again and again?
Our PAP-government has been overly reliant over the decades on using money to solve all sorts of national issues down to even giving cash rewards to spur good character in students. It is time for our uncreative government to overhaul its’ mindset instead and it should make a genuine effort to change the mindset of employers too.
Tighten (note I said tighten not close) the tap on cheap foreign workers, get greedy landlords, HDB and JTC et al to ease off rental increases that are not justifiable, enforce policies to encourage employers to hire Singaporeans first and let’s see if the companies become more generous and innovative in their hiring policies for local talents (yes let’s start calling our people LTs to make them sound more attractive too).
Our local workers and local talents certainly deserve fair wages and fair employment policies. But using the formula of Our government> pays employers > to pay employees more is not the way.
Just like how it was ethically wrong to use public funds to the tune of $1.1 billion to subsidise two privatised for-profit transport operators SBS Transit and SMRT to bump up their fleet of buses and to help cover the running costs.
It is very disturbing that our government seems to have an unfettered hand when it comes to the use of public funds to help businesses. On the other hand, they constantly tell us they have to zealously guard our reserves and are tight-fisted when it comes to spending more on social welfare matters.