The Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) took to its official Facebook page on Friday (3 July) to explain its RESTART programme, which is a part of the party’s “Four Yes, 1 No” GE campaign.
The RESTART (Re-Employment Scheme and Temporary Assistance for the ReTrenched) programme is a retrenchment insurance that will provide workers who had been laid off with support while they seek reemployment.
“SDP will fight for retrenchment benefits to be paid to workers retrenched as a result of COVID-19,” the party said.
Under the programme, the Government pays 75 percent of a retrenched worker’s last drawn salary for the first six months, 50 percent for the second six months, and 25 percent for the final six months. This will be capped at the median wage.
In Friday’s Facebook post, SDP answered three questions that the public may have in regards to the programme.
The first was on how the party plans to fund RESTART. SDP went into details to explain this.
The alternative party stated that it will use the money gained from the investment returns of the country’s reserves to fund RESTART, and not dip into the reserves itself.
“The investment returns from our reserves are expected to yield $37.2 billion in Financial Year 2020. The Government uses 50 % ($18.6b) of it to fund the Annual Budget. That leaves $18.6 billion that can be used to funds RESTART, which requires only an initial outlay of $2 billion p.a.,” SDP wrote.
It added, “This means that we are not even touching the reserve—only the yield that comes from it.”
SDP also stated that once the effect of COVID-19 ends, then RESTART will act as an insurance programme.
The second question that the alternative party addressed was the idea that providing financial help to those who have been retrenched will encourage them to be lazy.
To this, SDP said it is a “myth”, and the party cited a couple of studies that have shown evidence that “unemployment (or similar) benefits do not engender such attitude or behaviour”.
“In a bold experience, Finland demonstrated that even free money in the form of universal basic income not only does not make people lazy but it also has potential of revolutionising work in positive ways,” the alternative party explained.
SDP also pointed out that for decades the People’s Action Party (PAP) has “long-adopted the neo-liberal ideology” in which they have instilled in people’s mind that “welfare will produce a lazy and indulgent people”, which will cause the society to be ruined.
“The truth is quite the opposite,” SDP said.
It continued, “Seeing the callous and uncaring way we treat them—and being unable to do anything about it—will not inspire us to work towards a better society.”
“Ultimately, supporting those who face economic dislocation or caring for those who are unable to care for themselves is a human trait—and a highly desirable one.”
The third question that SDP clarified was on how the party plans to prevent the benefits from being abused.
“Then actual ‘free’ benefits of RESTART are only temporary. Once the post-pandemic economy stabilises, it will run as an insurance scheme,” the party stressed.
It added, “By its nature, insurance contains build-in mechanisms to prevent abuses. That’s the reason why we don’t see people smashing their car or killing themselves after buying insurances.”