The 2022 Budget Statement was delivered by Finance Minister Lawrence Wong in Parliament earlier today. The theme of this year’s Budget – Charting Our New Way Forward Together – aims to give Singaporeans confidence to embrace the journey forward.
And one way to embrace the post-pandemic future is to boost workers’ prospects and wages.
Company Training Committees (CTCs)
A sum of $100 million has been set aside to support NTUC in its efforts to upscale workers’ training and businesses’ transformation through the Company Training Committees (CTCs).
Part of this sum will be apportioned towards a new grant administered by NTUC to support companies that have already set up CTCs to implement their business transformation plans.
Mr. Wong said: “The CTC model brings together the unions and employers to develop concrete firm-level transformation plans, including the relevant training needed for their workers so that they can enjoy better wages, welfare, and prospects.”
Since its launch in April 2019, more than 800 CTCs have been formed.
This year’s Budget will also extend more support to lower-wage workers.
The Government will expand the Progressive Wage Model (PWM) to the retail, food services, and waste management sectors over the next two years.
This is based on the recommendations made by the Tripartite Workgroup on Lower-Wage Workers (TWG-LWW).
First introduced in June 2012, the PWM aims to increase workers’ wages through skills upgrading leading to increased productivity.
For companies that employ foreign workers, a qualifying salary of at least $1,400 will be mandated to its local employees.
A Progressive Wage Mark will also be implemented to accredit firms that pay progressive wages. From March 2023 onwards, only companies that are accredited with the Progressive Wage Mark can tender for government contracts.
To provide businesses transitional support to adjust to these changes, the Government will introduce Progressive Wage Credit Scheme (PWCS) in the sum of $2 billion.
Through the PWCS, the Government will co-fund the wage increases of lower-wage workers between 2022 and 2026.
Mid-career workers, especially those in their 40s to 50s, are more vulnerable to workplace disruptions.
Thus, the Government will extend more support for them to learn, adapt and thrive in new jobs
Attach-and-train initiatives such as the SGUnited Mid-Career Pathways Programme will be a permanent feature in the training and placement ecosystem.
A new SkillFuture Career Transition Program that provides highly subsidized, high-quality, industry-oriented training courses will be introduced and include employment facilitation services to maximize jobseekers’ prospects.
To boost the retirement adequacy of our older workers, the Government will increase CPF contribution rates by 3-4 percentage points for workers aged 55 to 70.
The Government will also raise the Basic Retirement Sum (BRS) payouts for those turning 55 between 2023 and 2027.
CPF members who manage to set aside the BRS upon turning 55 in 2027 will receive payouts close to $1,000 per month by the time they turn 65. In addition, members will not need to top-up their CPF if the BRS is not met.
Workers Impacted by COVID19
Two initiatives -the Covid-19 Recovery Grant and Jobs Growth Incentive will be extended. These initiatives support workers who continue to face income loss due to Covid-19.
The Jobs Growth Incentive will also be extended by six months to September, with stepped-down support rates reflecting the improved labor market conditions. The extension will support those who face more difficulty finding jobs, such as mature workers who have not been employed for six months or more, persons with disabilities, and ex-offenders.
Refining Foreign Worker Policies
Qualifying salary for new EP applicants and S Pass holders will be raised with specific sectors like the financial services to have a higher increase. These changes will take place from September 2022.
To spur more significant productivity improvements and support labor efficient solutions, the Government will also adjust work permit policies for the construction and process sectors which are heavily dependent on foreign workers. In addition, a new levy framework will also be introduced to encourage firms to support more off-site work and employ more higher-skilled work permit holders.
These changes will take place from 1 January 2024.
On the adjustments to the foreign worker policies, Mr. Wong said: “Even as we invest in Singaporeans, we must continue to stay open and bring in manpower skills from around the world. By combining local and foreign professionals, we form the best teams in Singapore to create value together.”
Editing is my work.