The actual amounts of the Government’s financial scheme are “abysmally small” and insufficient to help Singaporeans get through this difficult period, the Peoples Voice (PV) party leader Lim Tean stressed on Friday (21 Aug) as he cited his party’s member Leong Sze Hian’s Facebook post.
Earlier on Tuesday (18 Aug), Mr Leong took to Facebook citing The Straits Times’ report titled “Workers aged 35 to 44 and lower-income earners hit hardest by pay cuts due to COVID-19: DBS report”, and questioned the breakdown of employees in Singapore who had their incomes cut due to the COVID-induced economic downturn.
According to DBS Bank’s report, “more than a quarter of these workers” have seen a decline in their incomes in recent months, and of those, 56 per cent have had their incomes plunged by more than 30 per cent.
It added that the report was based on macro-economic data and anonymised findings from 1.2 million retail customers in the 25 to 70 age range, who use DBS as their main salary crediting bank within the March to May period. The bank excluded work permit holders in its analysis.
Referring to the report, Mr Leong noted that there are about “445,536 lower-income workers” who had their incomes cut by “more than 50 per cent” in recent months.
He asked, “As there are 551,800 resident workers [Singaporean and Permanent Resident (PR)] aged 35 to 44 [as cited in Yearbook of Manpower Statistics 2020]–does it mean that about 80,342 workers (551.800 x 26% x 56) ‘saw their incomes plunge by more than 30%’?”
DBS report also found that workers who earn less than S$3,000 of monthly salary “make up almost half of customers who have experienced a fall in salaries”. Additionally, 51 per cent of them had their incomes cut by “more than half”.
Citing data from the Yearbook of Manpower Statistics 2020, Mr Leong pointed out that there are 873,600 lower-income workers – Singaporeans and PR – with less than S$3,000 of monthly salary. This excludes unemployed residents.
With that said, “does it mean that about 445,536 workers (873,600 x 51%) ‘saw their incomes decline by more than half’?”, he added.
DBS Bank also noted that “64 per cent of workers who had experienced a significant fall in income had less than three months of emergency funds” in May, while “42 or 27 per cent” of them – who had taken large pay cuts – had less than a month of emergency funds.
To that, Mr Leong brought up about the Government COVID-19 Support Grant (CSG) which was introduced in May to help Singaporeans and PRs who are unemployed or have experienced significant income loss.
Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat announced on 17 August that the CSG will be extended until December 2020, adding that more than S$90 million has been disbursed to over 60,000 people thus far.
Among the criteria to receive the CSG – as stated in the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) website – is that the individual must be a full-time or part-time employee who experienced “loss of job/income or start of involuntary no-pay leave” since 23 January 2020.
Citing that, the PV’s member asked, “Does it mean that after more than 6 months (from 23 Jan) – the average payout per person is about $1,500 ($90m divided by 60,000)?”
Citing the Manpower Ministry (MOM) statistical table for unemployment rate on 30 June, Mr Leong claimed it was stated that there were “111,100 non-seasonally adjusted unemployed Singaporeans [unemployment rate 5.6%], 14,100 PRs [3.4% estimate], and 22,900 foreigners [1.8% estimate]”.
He then sums up the MOM statistical data and the estimated “445,536 lower-income workers” as well as the estimated “80,342 workers” who are aged 35 to 44, and asked, “How many are ‘presently experiencing reduced monthly salary of at least 30% for at least three consecutive months’?”
“How many are ‘presently on involuntary no-pay leave (NPL) for at least three consecutive months’?” Mr Leong added.
Lim Tean: Singaporeans are very poorly supported by the Government during the COVID-19 crisis
Mr Leong’s post was re-shared by the PV’s chief Lim Tean earlier today, noting that the post has shown how “shockingly inept Government support” was given to the lower-income group to tide over the COVID-19 crisis.
“This post from PV’s Leong Sze Hian will make you realise that despite all the bombast from the PAP [People’s Action Party] about how much the Government is spending to help Singaporeans tide over the COVID-19 disaster, the actual amounts individuals are getting are abysmally small and not sufficient to help them tide over this most difficult period.
“It can be inferred from the DBS report that around 445,536 lower-income individuals have had their salaries reduced by more than 50% because of COVID! These are individuals who earn less than $3,000 per month,” he wrote.
Noting that there are about 873,600 employees in Singapore who are earning less than S$3,000 of monthly salary, Mr Lim explained that the figure 445,536 that was mentioned by Mr Leong represents the 51 per cent of the number 873,600.
But it appears that only S$90 million of the CSG has been given out to support 60,000 people thus far, which works out to an average of S$1,500 per person, he added.
“The PAP loves to talk big about the close to $100 Billion they have set aside to help Singaporeans. You can go and figure out the spin and the fluff of this Government!
“Singaporeans are actually being very poorly supported by this government during this crisis. Of course, all this adds to the widening inequality in our society. Shocking and inexcusable!” Mr Lim remarked.