Progress Package Assessment Fair And Simple17 Mar 2006
I refer to Mr Chen Jiayu's letter "Draw the Line Fairly to Reduce Errors" (SMDN, 9 March 2006), asking why the Progress Package will not benefit the unemployed and those with no income, and suggesting that the Government develop additional criteria for assessing an individual?s means.
2. The Progress Package shares part of the Government's surpluses with all Singaporeans, including the unemployed and those with no income. The unemployed and those with no income will benefit from the Growth Dividends. They will also receive CPF top-ups if they are aged 50 and above, and the 40th Anniversary NS Bonus if they have served or are serving National Service.
3. However, those who are not working will not qualify for the Workfare Bonus. The purpose of the Workfare Bonus is to encourage Singaporeans to work even if their wages are low, and not to rely on state welfare. We want to encourage Singaporeans to take responsibility for their own situations, and do their part to improve their own lives. We should avoid inadvertently creating a mindset of entitlement and eroding the work ethic.
4. To qualify for the Workfare Bonus, the low wage worker needs to have worked at least 6 months in a year. It is given based on the individual income of a low wage worker, rather than his per capita household income. Low wage workers drawing the same income will receive the same reward for work, regardless of the size of their families, as the Workfare Bonus is not meant to be an assistance scheme to meet the needs of households.
5. To target the Progress Package at lower income Singaporeans, the Government has used both Assessable Income and Annual Value of homes as proxies. Introducing additional criteria, as the writer mentioned, will be complex, intrusive and expensive to administer.
6. To further help lower-income families, the Government has also provided rental, utilities and service and conservancy charges rebates for HDB households. Nonetheless, there will be some who are unable to make ends meet, or who encounter some misfortune. The Government provides assistance through schemes such as ComCare and MediFund, to help needy families with living and medical expenses, and to upgrade their skills and find jobs. Needy families can approach their Community Development Council for assistance.
7. For more information on the Progress Package, the public can visit our website at www.progress.gov.sg or call 1800-2222-888.
HAN KOK JUAN
DIRECTOR (SOCIAL PROGRAMMES)
MINISTRY OF FINANCE