Titled “RESTART (Re-Employment Scheme and Temporary Assistance for the ReTrenched)”, the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) aims to move away from the current “Government-dominated domestic economy” by moving towards a private sector that “plays a major role” in a country that has a “robust entrepreneurial culture”.

“With a genuine restructuring of our economy, the SDP’s proposal of RESTART Co-op will put Singapore firmly on the road to a healthier economy and brighter future for Singaporeans,” as stated on the press release on the Party’s website.

Under this plan, all workers will join an insurance scheme with employers and the Government. If a worker is retrenched, they will be entitled to an average of 50 per cent of their last drawn salary for a period of 18 months – though subject to a cap of the prevailing median wage.

If the retrenched worker can find nine other similarly retrenched workers and submit a viable business proposal, they will be able to withdraw their unemployment payouts in one lump sum to use as capital to start a co-operative enterprise.

The SDP calls this initiative ‘RESTART Co-op’.

The scheme would set out broad guidelines as to the types of business-cooperatives it would approve. An independent body will be set up to oversee such businesses to prevent abuse of the scheme. Statutory guidelines will also be introduced to hold the boards and management accountable.

Such a practice, pioneered in Italy – called the ‘Marcora Law’ – will help retrenched workers get back on their feet and also encourage entrepreneurship among Singaporeans. It will also help to create jobs if these businesses become successful.

In addition, these co-ops, owned and managed for the benefit of members, will contribute to economic inclusivity and pluralism in Singapore’s market economy.

At the moment, Singapore is ranked highly in the Crony-Capitalism Index. Such a model is unhealthy and unsustainable as clearly demonstrated in the country’s productivity and GDP numbers in recent years.

“We are deeply concerned about the job situation in Singapore. We are also disappointed with the PAP’s proposed plans in this area which is more fluff than substance,” said the SDP.

Hence, the Party is proposing a measure that will help create jobs while opening up a path for Singaporeans to become more enterprising and innovative.

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