Channel NewsAsia: Low Thia Khiang welcomes Workfare but questions govt’s sincerity

By Julia Ng

SINGAPORE: Opposition MP Low Thia Khiang has welcomed the Workfare Income Supplement (WIS) scheme, saying it will be another pillar in Singapore’s social safety net.

But he rejected tying it to CPF contributions as this means some odd job workers may be left out of the scheme.

Mr Low, who spoke in Mandarin during Tuesday’s debate on the Budget Statement, said this requirement showed a lack of sincerity on the Government’s part in helping low-income workers.

He also questioned the need to raise the GST by 2 percentage points and the advantage of cutting corporate tax by just 2 percentage points.

Speaking after Mr Low, MP for Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC Hri Kumar rebutted Mr Low’s criticisms, especially on the timing of the GST hike and the amount of corporate tax cut.

Mr Hri said that it was illogical to wait until the economy is not doing well before raising the taxes.

Mr Hri went on to say: “Mr Low said that the corporate tax reduction is not sufficient to attract business. Well, I agree that if that’s all we’re relying on, then that’s not a good thing. But we’re not relying solely on the corporate tax reduction. There’s a whole slew of measures and which is why we need to invest in our infrastructure, which is why we need to invest in our people and upgrade their skills so that we can attract businesses to come to Singapore.”

On Mr Low’s criticism against the Medisave-Workfare linkage, MP Halimah Yacob said: “The decision to link WIS to Medisave is a crucial and important one. Unlike Mr Low who thinks it shows the insincerity on the government’s part, I think that on the contrary this shows how much concern the government has on the plight of the low income and casual workers.”

Recounting the hardships faced by workers without Medisave or CPF, she added: “We spoke to many of them in the cleaning industry, the construction sector, in the other services sector. Their sense of insecurity and fear is real. Why are the casual workers so concerned about falling ill, retiring from work, or if they are the sole breadwinner, if they were to die leaving behind their dependants? The reason is very simple – in Singapore, housing, health and retirement are all tied to the CPF.” – CNA/ir

Posted in 2007 02. Comments Off on Channel NewsAsia: Low Thia Khiang welcomes Workfare but questions govt’s sincerity
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