Monday, November 07, 2005

Elections must be coming real soon.

From ST:

Nov 7, 2005
PM backs bonus for low-wage workers

Payout is one of many ideas govt committee is looking into to narrow income gap
By Lydia Lim and T. Rajan

THE Government may pay a special bonus to low-income middle-aged workers to encourage them to stay employed.

This latest plan to narrow the growing income gap was announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday at the People's Action Party (PAP) convention.

The idea for bonuses was floated by Manpower Minister Ng Eng Hen to Mr Lee and the Prime Minister thinks it will work.

The special one-off payout is to be given when there is a Budget surplus. It is to help low-income workers aged over 40, many of whom have both children and elderly parents to support. Those with the lowest incomes will get the biggest bonuses.

'We want to encourage people to work, but if they have low incomes and are working, we should reward them,' said Mr Lee, reiterating the principle behind workfare.

'If you make an effort, you will be rewarded,' he said.

He added that the Committee on Low-wage Workers, chaired by Dr Ng, was working on this and other ideas. It is due to announce its recommendations early next year.

He made the announcements while addressing the PAP convention for the first time as secretary-general.

A confident Mr Lee said both Singapore and the ruling party had what it took to meet the competition and challenges ahead.

He spoke for 30 minutes in English, Mandarin and Malay to some 2,000 party members at the Kallang Theatre.

He celebrated the PAP government's success to date and also laid out its programme to take the country forward.

The PAP, he said, continued to be the party with the ideas and policies to make life better for all Singaporeans.

Its policies served to upgrade the economy to create new jobs and remake the education system to prepare all children for the future. They were also strengthening social cohesion and guarding against the fault lines of race, language and religion.

The effectiveness of these policies could be seen in the 78,000 new jobs created so far this year, two-thirds of which went to Singaporeans.

The audience roared with laughter when Mr Lee joked that it was turning out to be easier to create jobs than to get Singaporeans to create babies.

Internationally, Singapore's standing was also high, he said.

This was why multinationals continue to invest here. Countries like China, India and Russia were also keen to work with the Republic to develop industrial parks.

Within Singapore itself, there were policies to ensure all in society progressed together, with help for low-income families, the elderly and those with medical needs.

'We will do everything in our power to take care of all groups,' he said.

The Government will continue to distribute Budget surpluses, with the elderly receiving more Medisave top-ups, and those on low incomes, more Singapore Shares.

To achieve all this, Mr Lee said Singapore needed a 'strong and capable PAP' which would pursue pragmatic and rational solutions with compassion.

Good leadership was also crucial and the PAP continued to renew itself.

In the next General Election, which Mr Lee would only say was 'some time coming', the party would field a good slate of candidates, both old and new.

Without providing names or numbers, he said the new line-up would be 'young, diverse and representative', in touch with people's needs and committed to the country. He urged party members to help him win the next polls with a strong mandate to lead the country and secure its future.

Young PAP member Goh Chung Meng, 48, director of Avi-Tech Electronics, was in favour of rewarding low-wage workers.

'We don't want to have welfare. You work, we will help you out,' was how he summed it up.

Senior Parliamentary Secretary (Manpower and Education) Hawazi Daipi said low-income families were an issue that would remain: 'We hope to find new ways of helping Singaporeans to level up, to help themselves be employable.'

Elections must be coming real soon.

I really cannot think of any other reasons why is our govt giving away so many goodies all of a sudden.

I just hope they won’t take it all back with interest after the elections by increasing GST, ERP, our CPF withdrawal age and whatnot!


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