Issue 105

07 Grassroots with passion


salaries, to Singaporeans age 40 and over actively looking for a job for more than 12 months, while those seeking for a job for less than 12 months, 40% of their salaries will be foot by the government. However, the programme is only extended to workers earning $4,000 monthly (non SMES) and at least $3,600 monthly for SMEs. Although according to statistics the median salary of a Singaporean worker is about $4,000, the programme does not take into account the plights of thousands of unemployed Singaporeans earning less than $3,600 a month. A new Attach-and-Train programme is also introduced whereby workers get training and work attachment opportunities in advance of job placements, but these are restricted to certain industries and workers will face the stigma of working as temporary workers while they are in such programmes. There are also other courses available for the upgrading of job seekers but the reality is many a times, the job seeker will be burdened by the high course fees he has to fork out even with the $500 course credit. Not forgetting the not uncommon negative treatment from course trainers who instead of encouraging job seekers may condemn their efforts and quash their aspirations. Then there is the water price hike that led to the largest outcry from businesses and individuals: The rise will kick in July, increasing water prices by 30%. Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat reiterated that the water price hike would be defrayed by U-Save rebates and that the last time water prices were raised was in 2000. Although this led to speculations that the GST would also soon rise, Singaporeans should get consolation that the price hike will work out to be less than $11 a month for HDB dwellers. Workers’ Party Pritnam Singh (Aljunied GRC) highlighted that between 2002 and 2004 PUB managed to lower the cost of producing NEWater. He quoted that

The 2017 budget is seen as a continual one with efforts to tackle issues such as the cost of living for families, unemployment, a possible dearth in water resources, and help for the less privileged members of society. How the general public react to this latest budget appears to be somewhat of a mixed bag. First, the pro family policies that the budget continues to implement will naturally bring smiles to Singaporeans watching household expenditures as it lowers the cost of resale HDB flats, gives higher bursaries for post secondary students, increases infant care places and gives HDB dwellers U-Save rebates. Couples looking at owning their first homes through the purchase of resale HDB flats will receive more subsidies. The subsidy for 4-room or smaller flats has increased from $30,000 to $50,000 while the subsidy for 5-room or bigger flats has increased from $30,000 to $40,000. Post secondary students will receive increased bursaries amounting to add-ons of $400 for undergraduates, $350 for polytechnic students, and $200 for technical education students. Infant care places will also surge by 2020 to over 8,000. To offset the rise in water prices there is also a U-Save rebate amounting to a few hundreds annually for HDB households. Another facet that hits every Singaporean family and underlined by the budget, is rising unemployment. The present resident unemployment figure is at an all-time four-year high of 3%. Manpower Minister Lim Swee Say was caught in tears when he introduced new polices to tackle the issue. Obviously unemployment remains a huge concern the government has yet to alleviate. Under the budget, the Career Support Programme is enhanced to give additional salary payouts of up to 50% of their

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