Reform Party Successfully Demanded in Our GE2020 Election Manifesto That the Employment Pass Minimum Salary be RaisedPublished: 26th August 2020
This afternoon Josephine Teo announced that the Government will be raising the minimum salary for Employment Pass and S Pass holders. This was a key demand in our Election Manifesto for GE 2020 where we called for the minimum salary for Employment Pass holders to be raised from the current $3900 per month to $5000 with a cap on total numbers. We are pleased that the Government has heeded our call.
Our manifesto also called for a cap on total numbers. The cap can be raised or lowered inversely with the unemployment rate for citizens and Reform Party would explore the possibility of an auction system to ensure that the sectors where it is difficult to find local employees get the most passes. We have also called for action to address the unfairness of male foreign Employment Pass holders, PRs and new citizens not being required to do NS and annual reservist training and thus being preferred by employers. Our suggested form of evening the playing field would be an additional tax of up to 5% of income on all foreign workers in these categories.
Reform Party Supports Free Trade Agreements But the Government Must Be Required to Provide a Cost-Benefit Analysis of Such Agreements
On Monday Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat, at a virtual event for East Coast resident, made a statement saying that Singapore’s Free Trade Agreements, including the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement with India, had benefited Singaporeans by creating better jobs through investment. However, he failed as usual to cite any facts to support his claims. Reform Party is in favour of Singapore signing both bilateral and multilateral agreements liberalizing trade and investment. Indeed, given Singapore’s unique strategic position, at the crossroads of global trade for centuries, it would be economically illiterate not to be. However, all such agreements must be demonstrated to have positive economic benefits and to work for SIngaporeans. Towards this end Reform Party calls for the Ministry of Trade and Industry to be required to provide a regular report to Parliament of the economic impact of the agreement on the economy as a whole and on specific industry sectors together with a scorecard of the number of jobs created versus those lost. While trade is not a zero-sum game, the losers from trade must be compensated by the winners. For too long the PAP Government has got away with not providing any comprehensive cost-benefit analysis of its liberal (some would say open-door) policies on employing foreign labour.
Temasek Group Companies and Other GLCs Should Also Be Required to Provide Figures to Show Singaporean Citizens Are Treated Fairly
This is particularly true when it comes to state-owned companies, the majority of which are part of Temasek Holdings, which seems to regard itself as some kind of autonomous fiefdom run by the Prime Minister’s wife, Ho Ching, and not accountable to Parliament or to Singaporeans. Temasek recently issued a statement condemning what it termed as racist and divisive attacks on its Indian employees. Reform Party completely condemns racism in all its forms, particularly that practised by the PAP Government and we are committed to the passage of an Equality Act to comprehensively outlaw discrimination. However, Temasek’s statement is disingenuous, to say the least. It says that 90% of the employees in its Singapore office are either Singaporean citizens or PRs but it provides no breakdown of the split between them. Acquiring PR status in Singapore is relatively easy and also male PRs are not required to do NS as male Singaporeans are. As a state-owned company, Temasek must be accountable to Singaporeans for whom it employs. Reform Party would require Temasek and other public sector companies including GIC to provide an annual report to Parliament, which together with an open and transparent breakdown of their performance and the total compensation received by their top management, would require them to state what the proportion of foreign employees, including PRs, based in Singapore is. This should be broken down by group company. Temasek and other state-owned companies should also provide a breakdown of the average salary paid to foreign, PR and Singaporean employees, the reasons for any large gaps and what steps are being taken to close the gaps and where possible to increase employment of citizens.
The requirements for disclosure should not stop at foreign employees but also extend to minorities and women with Government Linked Companies (GLCs) being required to provide reasons for significant gaps with the adoption of targets of varying degrees of hardness, to increase representation in line with their share in the population and to reduce salary gaps as much as possible.
The PAP Government has for too long got away with not providing Singaporeans with the facts. If the Reform Party were in Parliament, we would work tirelessly to force the Government to be accountable and transparent.