Workers’ Party’s Member of Parliament (MP) for Hougang SMC Png Eng Huat called on the Government to use funds from Singapore’s reserves to save jobs first, instead of using it to “rescue corporate executives of large companies who did little or no planning to save for a rainy day” nor to protect fat dividends or share buyback schemes for listed companies.
In Parliament on Monday (6 April), MP Png asked how the Government will ensure that the nation’s reserves are channeled to save jobs, especially for those in the aviation industry as the sector would receive a major share from the reserve money.
“The Deputy Prime Minister had said the S$17 billion from the reserves will be used to help fund measures like supporting jobs, helping the self-employed and boosting the hard-hit aviation sector,” he noted. “So the use of our reserves must save jobs, first and foremost.”
MP Png stressed that funds from the reserves should not be used to “rescue corporate executives of large companies who did little or no planning to save for a rainy day, and will continue to receive fat salaries while their companies bleed”.
“It must also not be used to protect fat dividends or share buyback schemes for listed companies to appease their shareholders once the crisis blows over,” he added.
In referring to the public funds that would be used to co-pay a large portion of the employers’ staff salaries, MP Png asked whether there are any conditions imposed on the big companies, such as holding off retrenchment exercises for as long as they receiving help from the government.
“And for listed companies, would there be a temporary moratorium on the payment of dividends or share buyback exercise once the assistance is no longer needed?” he asked.
Noting that he supports the measures to save jobs and the livelihoods of many self-employed Singaporeans in the supplementary budget, MP Png asked if the employees who were assigned to go on no-pay leave will receive any help to pay their bills.
“Would they be receiving any help as well as there are bills to pay and mouths to feed? These workers would include retail staff, childcare centre cooks, coffee shop helpers, office cleaners, and the list goes on,” he questioned.
MP Png spoke in Parliament about a resident who runs an employment agency by himself has had his livelihood vanished overnight, and some Singaporean freelancers do not have receipts and Central Provident Fund (CPF) contributions to prove their livelihood status.
On that note, he sought clarifications on whether the Government will allocate funds to help those who are self-employed and freelancers.
Following the closure of non-essential workplaces and schools, MP Png said utility usage for households is expected to increase now that Singaporeans are working from home via telecommuting, and students have switched to full home-based learning.
Thus, he asked in Parliament whether the U-save rebates were adequately measured to assist Singaporeans in covering the impending increase in utility charges under the latest stay-at-home orders.
“Many affected residents I spoke to the past two days asked when can the help arrive? Some help measures will only come in May or later but many affected Singaporeans were already struggling to make ends meet since February,” MP Png noted.