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GE2020: Here Are Key Economic And Financial Policy Proposals Contained In Political Parties’ Manifestos

You’ve seen their candidates. Now read about the policies proposals each party is making that will affect Singapore economically.


This article was first published on 1 July 2020, and updated when Peoples Voice released their manifesto on 6 July 2020.

With GE2020 coming up and every party contesting releasing their manifestos, we provide you with a comprehensive list of what policies related to the economy, jobs and cost of living has been proposed by said parties.

Do take note that we only took policy suggestions, and did not list any reviews in the manifestos of the parties unless they carry a recommendation for a policy with it.

People’s Action Party

In their manifesto, the PAP is seeking a strong mandate to continue handling the COVID-19 crisis. With their basis on “Our Lives, Our Jobs, Our Future”, the PAP presents their plans on how they would continue their work to lead Singapore out of the crisis in a strong position.

Jobs And The Workforce

For jobs, PAP will create 100,000 job opportunities using the SG United Jobs and Skills programme and is setting up the National Jobs Council to create and protect jobs. They have broken down the focus on jobs to 6 areas to help:

#1 Workers aged 40-60, through SkillsFuture credits, subsidised reskilling and mid-career pathway programmes, as well as special employment incentives for employers.

#2 Senior workers will have support through grants for re-employment, providing support for industries and companies to redesign jobs and providing the Senior Employment Credit

#3 Young Singaporeans will have career support strengthened by having the SGUnited traineeships, free Continuing Education and Training(CET) and the global ready talent programme when safe to travel.

#4 Lower wage workers will have their jobs and earnings enhanced, through enhanced Workfare support and an extended Progressive Wage Model for more industries.

#5 PAP will work with employers to make sure that persons with disabilities are hired, including through the Enabling Employment Credit scheme.

#6 All workers will have access to satellite career centres in HDB towns and scale-up programmes to help convert careers and upgrade skills through SkillsFuture. Also, PAP makes sure jobseekers are protected through the Fair Consideration Framework and provide financial incentives for employers to hire or redeploy local workers.

Economic Policies

For the economy, PAP is focused on making sure businesses are stabilised against COVID-19 by,

#1 Providing support for cash flow, costs and credit

#2 Passing rental relief laws and providing help to sectors hit hard by COVID-19

#3 Accelerating digital transformation for companies in all industries by the Transformation and Growth Packages, SMEs Go Digital and SkillsFuture Enterprise Credits as well as other grants, while promoting growth industries

#4 Diversify our supply chains with international cooperation and participate actively in the global digital economy.

Lastly, to support Singaporeans, PAP is proposing to continue assistance with the cost of living to all Singaporeans. This is through the various budget payouts and credit being given out to Singaporeans, the Care and Support package and various grants and subsidies given out for housing, education, transport and healthcare.

 

Workers’ Party

The Workers Party lays out their vision for Singapore in their manifesto, which includes making Singaporeans be able to achieve their dreams, provide dignified jobs for workers and tackling the cost of living for all Singaporeans.

Responding To The COVID-19 Crisis

Firstly, they have immediate concerns they want to address in terms of the handling of COVID-19 by the Government economically. They want to:

#1 Review the budget stimulus and its payment modes by having a stored value account for each citizen as well as a single portal across the whole of the Government.

#2 Plug gaps in the support measures. Measures suggested include

  1. HDB public rent to be forgiven until all lockdown restrictions are lifted, as rental flat residents are screened to be of low income.
  2. The Self-Employed Person Income Relief Scheme (SIRS) to be made automatic for all self-employed adults below the age of 37.
  3. Singaporeans who have CPF balances that exceed the CPF minimum sum should also be allowed to redraw a reasonable percentage of the excess CPF balance.

#3 Support local enterprises by allowing SMEs to repay the government loan schemes providing emergency credit when they return to profitability. They also call for clear rules relating to Financial Institutions offering lower interest rates for loans where the Government takes on the bulk of credit risk.

Post-COVID-19 Proposals

For their vision of achieving dreams, financial assistance policies proposed among others include

#1 Introducing a SkillsFuture education loan to disburse zero-interest loans from the state, supporting the costs of private Continuing Educations and Training (CET) programmes and qualifications.

#2 Lowering the CPF Payout and CPF Life eligibility age to 60, to empower elderly Singaporeans to make informed choices on when they start drawing their CPF savings.

#3 Introducing Special Dividends for CPF members from GIC investments, with the GIC returning a third of the 10-year moving average difference between the investment returns of GIC and the net interest payable on CPF member balances to be paid into CPF member’s Special Accounts.

Economic Policies

Workers Party also proposes these economic policies for a thriving economy, which include

#1 Forming an export-import (EXIM) bank, to help promote foreign direct investments for promising SMEs, and provide credit to exports.

#2 Form a National Secretariat for Enterprise to make local firms globally competitive, through developing metrics measuring job creation and having multiplier effects of the SME sectors for industries with government support.

#3 Keep commercial and industrial rents manageable, by JTC expanding market share for industrial space while continuing to offer low rent options for SMEs and HDB offering low-rent commercial spaces allocated by ballot to stimulate entrepreneurship.

#4 Require interest in Governmental late payments to local vendors, to support SMEs better by ensuring fair contract practises and discourage late payments from governmental agencies.

Jobs And The Workforce

#1 Introducing a national minimum wage, with all working Singaporeans receiving a minimum wage of $1,300 for full-time work, pro-rated for part-time work.

#2 Introducing a Redundancy Insurance Scheme to help to ease financial pressure on retrenched redundant workers due to technological disruption

#3 Shared Parental Leave to help fathers to take on greater responsibilities in childcare to support their spouses, replacing existing maternity and paternity leave entitlements.

#4 Supporting mothers and informal caregivers re-entering the workforce, through paid re-entry programmes.

#5 Legislate against discrimination for gender, race and age to better protect Singaporeans from discriminatory practices which currently are not punishable offences.

#6 Tighten Employment Pass (EP) approvals and introduce Employment Pass credentials assessment, to support employers in hiring Singaporeans.

#7 Introduce incentives for hiring Singaporeans, such as tax incentives and preferential access to state incentives, to encourage employers to hire Singaporeans.

Tackling The Cost Of Living

Lastly, the Worker’s Party suggests these policies to improve the cost of living.

#1 No GST hike to 9%, as it would increase the cost of living and that alternative sources of revenue will need to be considered more.

#2 Controlling HDB BTO selling prices by pegging selling prices in non-mature estates to household incomes

#3 Make healthcare more affordable, by

  1. Making all public and CHAS-affiliated private healthcare institutions channel their drug, medical equipment and material purchases through a central buying agency.
  2. Removing MediShield Life annual claim limits
  3. Lowering the cost of Intermediate and Long-Term Care (ILTC), which include residential services), centre-based services and home-based services.
  4. Widen the use of MediSave for those over 60

#4 Reform HDB policies to tackle lease decay, through a universal buyback scheme, launching more SERS exercises and providing SERS schemes.

#5 Boost retirement adequacy for unpaid workers, by relaxing rules on the transfer of CPF funds before the age of 55 (including MediSave), provided the Minimum Sum has been met, to allow transfers to older relatives in one’s extended family.

#6 Boost caregiver support by allowing to be entitled to ask for flexible work arrangements, feasible to both employer and employee.

Read Also: Budget 2020 Stabilisation and Support Package: Schemes To Help Companies And Employees Tide Through COVID-19

Singapore Democratic Party

The Singapore Democratic Party has posted their policy suggestions online and have updated their website with policies related to topics such as cost of living and the economy. As part of their “Four Yes, One No” election campaign, along with the various policy suggestions, SDP wants to lessen the burden on people and improve the quality of life.

Economic Policies

For COVID-19, their election campaign response includes economic policies such as

#1 Suspending the GST to 0% until the end of 2021, to help businesses and the economy recover.

#2 Paying retrenchment benefits through their RESTART (Re-Employment Scheme and Temporary Assistance for the ReTrenched) programme, where retrenched workers get paid an average of 50% of their last drawn salary for a period of 18 months

#3 Providing a monthly income of $500 for retirees over 65, under SDP’s Retirement Income Scheme for the Elderly (RISE). This is to reduce the financial pressure of supporting retiree parents, as well as support elderly retirees.

Tackling The Cost Of Living

Under their cost of living policies, SDP proposes to:

#1 Cut ministerial pay to fund assistance schemes for the poor, taking away variable bonuses to be used for other schemes.

#2 Raise the income tax rate for the top 1 percent, for more financial relief for low-income families

#3 Ensure revenue-neutral budgets so that the Government collects only the amount of money it needs, instead of having big surpluses in previous years

#4 Scrap GST for essential items and raise GST for luxury goods, with GST for luxury items being raised to 10%

#5 Legislate a minimum wage

#6 Reinstate estate duty tax, with the exemption threshold being $20 million. SDP recommends a 30% estate duty tax.

#7 Reduce healthcare costs by replacing the current medical schemes with a single-payer universal healthcare scheme.

#8 Lower HDB prices through a Non-Open Market flats scheme.

#9 Return CPF savings by abolishing the CPF Retirement sum scheme and the CPF Minimum sum scheme, having an opt-in clause instead to replace the CPF Retirement sum scheme

Economic Policies

Redefine economic progress by using an alternative indicator of economic progress from the GDP, such as the Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI)

Reduce income inequality through a minimum wage and retrenchment insurance

Eliminate Government-linked companies(GLCs) and increase SME growth by divesting from GLCs

Remake the GIC/Temasek model, by removing Temasek Holdings and having GIC’s operations be made transparent and accounts public.

Progress Singapore Party

Under its election manifesto, Tan Cheng Bock’s Progress Singapore Party has prioritised a “Resurgence Strategy Post-COVID economically”, with a bolder economic stimulus and stronger support for SMEs. Under its social priorities, a stronger social safety net, the HDB lease decay and CPF withdrawal are among things that the party wants to address.

Economic Policies

Under its economic policies, PSP is proposing

#1 Job priority and quotas for the Employment Pass, as well as a lower quota for the S Pass and Work Permit.

#2 Reducing dependence on foreign labour through moving towards a higher value-add and higher-wage model

#3 Support provided for SMEs, such as priority in public sector procurements, investments, reduction of business costs and direct restructuring support

#4 Increase amount of Workfare and the cash portion to 80%

#5 Introduce a living wage to all sectors

Social Policies

Under its Social Policies, PSP is suggesting

#1 A stronger social safety net, including improved financial assistance for COVID related unemployment and an increased ComCare payout

#2 En-bloc redevelopments for all old flats

#3 The pegging of new flats to income levels

#4 Bringing down housing costs for young Singaporeans

#5 Having the ability to withdraw up to $50,000 in CPF at age 55

#6 The sale of En-bloc rights

#7 MediShield Life premiums to be paid by the Government

#8 Freezing tax and fee increases for the next five years, as well as exempting basic necessities from the GST

PSP comments that the financing of such proposals would be done through cuts in public spending and the use of investment returns from the sovereign wealth fund.

Read Also: Here Are 4 Things You Need To Know If You’re Planning To Donate To Candidates’ Campaigns During GE2020

Red Dot United

The Red Dot United party had released a charter detailing its plans if elected. The party wants to improve lives, provide flexibility and ensure Singapore is ready for the future.

Policies For Improving Lives

#1 No to any rise in GST or any other fees for the next five years

#2 Improve Medifund to provide support for needy Singaporeans and aid with huge medical bills, and consider a national health insurance scheme, incentivising government regulation of healthcare costs

#3 Make the En-bloc Redevelopment Programme mandatory to ease concerns over the value of HDB flats

#4 Pricing new flats at multiples of median income and location factors

#5 Revise the Employment Act to prevent employers from abusing the distinction between employees and independent contractors

#6 Introduce an award scheme for HR managers with good compliance track records for prioritising jobs for Singaporeans while providing incentives for companies to hire such managers.

#7 Encourage more Singaporeans to upgrade themselves by matching PMETs to jobs before they go through on-job training or a part-time training programme, providing salary support to incentivise companies to hire and train these PMETs

#8 Expand the Professional Conversion Programme, where the Government pays companies up to $4,000 per month to hire and retain employees.

#9 Reserve jobs for Singaporeans in selected future growth sectors to enable capability transfers and grow local expertise

Economic Policies For Improving Flexibility

Allow CPF members the option to withdraw all their monies at retirement age, borrow from their CPF accounts and provide options and flexibility for CPF members, such as incentivising the staggered withdrawal of CPF monies in 5- or 10-year intervals after retirement age

Policies For The Future

#1 Local businesses to have governmental priority for procurements.

#2 Use the sovereign wealth funds to acquire companies in selected industries and reserve jobs in these companies for Singaporeans to train and expose themselves.

#3 Provide pathways for SMEs to partner GLCs/MNCs to venture overseas and provide risk capital.

#4 Move towards a more progressive tax structure for businesses.

 

Reform Party

The Reform Party has provided policy proposals in their manifesto for GE2020 and believe that what the Government is currently doing is not enough.

Tackling Cost Of Living

#1 A suspension of GST for 2020 and 2021, following that a review to potentially eliminating GST for essential categories such as food, utilities and medicines.

#2 A seniors’ benefit payout of $500 per month for those over 65

#3 A child benefit payout of $300 per month for those at or below 1.5 median incomes.

#4 An universal healthcare system

#5 Free university education for those who have served NS, the disabled and exempted on medical grounds.

#6 A review of the HDB leaseholds, with a view to either giving Singaporeans the leases or being able to extend the said lease.

Economic Policies

#1 An unemployment benefit of up to 6 months based on 75% of last drawn salary, with a cap of $2,500 per month.

#2 A Minimum wage of $10/hour

#3 Having the Employment Pass minimum salary to be raised to at least $5,000 per month, with a cap on total numbers, as well as an additional tax for new citizens, long-term employment pass holders and PRs who have not done NS.

Read Also: Supplementary Resilience Budget 2020: The A To Z Of Minister Heng Swee Keat’s Landmark Announcement

National Solidarity Party

The NSP believes that an open and free competitive economy is best in Singapore. In their manifesto, they explain that the Government’s economic responsibilities should generally be confined to the formulation of policies to enhance economic growth

Economic Policies

#1 Local SMEs and micro-businesses should be assisted to lower business costs, increase productivity and enhance competitiveness.

#2 The GST should not be increased to 9%. Instead, the Government should look at other sources of revenue.

#3 Citizens should be entitled to the foremost priority in the engagement and employment of the workforce.

#4 HDB shall release comprehensive details of each project on its website before launching it, to allow evaluation of its cost-efficiency.

#5 The national defence expenditure should be reduced progressively over several years so that it could be capped at a steady 4.5% of the GDP.

Tackling The Cost Of Living

#1 More tax credits shall be given to citizens caring for their aged parents and school-going children. These credits can be the form of tax rebates in their annual income taxes.

#2 Have an increase in subsidised rental flats being developed to cater to citizens in dire need of housing. Foreign workers would be prohibited from using these flats.

#3 Prevent HDB flats owned by PRs to be resold within eight years of ownership, with subjecting taxes from any profits realised from the sale.

#4 Provide an affordable Comprehensive Medical Insurance (CMI) with coverage to include hospitalisation and outpatient treatments. The CMI would be made mandatory for all Citizens, with the Government contributing at least 50% of the premiums payable.

#5 Extend subsidies for educational services to include the nursery and pre-primary levels as well and the administration of both Nursery and Pre-primary education should be placed under the purview of the MOE instead of the MCYS.

#6 Citizens shall be allowed to withdraw temporarily from their own CPF Ordinary Accounts, whenever they are retrenched or in times of hardship. A household can withdraw a maximum amount of $3000 per month up to 6 months, capped at 20% of the Ordinary Account. Such withdrawals should be fully repaid when the Account Holder is gainfully employed.

#7 Expand CPF approved tertiary education providers in terms of scope and ability to provide a boost in the knowledge-based economy

Singapore People’s Party

The SPP is participating in its first election without having Chaim See Tong or his wife, Lina Chiam, vying for a seat. Built upon its three guiding principles of Accountability, Commitment and Empathy, SPP’s election manifesto details its policies for the cost of living, among others.

Tackling The Cost Of Living

#1 No further increases of the GST

#2 Double quantum of the Silver Support Scheme cash supplement, with the cash distributed monthly

#3 Allowing partial withdrawals of CPF on compassionate grounds, while returns of CPF investment be made public. Also, those who qualify for the scheme should have free travel on public transport.

#4 CPF education scheme to be extended to allow coverage of children’s tertiary education

#5 CPF investment returns should be published, and increased returns should be distributed to CPF members when returns are better than expected.

#6 Extend SERS to all estates

#7 Extend the lease buyback scheme by giving all HDB owners the option to sell leases back to HDB at near market value after five years.

#8 Greater subsidies for mental health services, especially for communities that are disadvantaged

Jobs And The Workforce

#1 Introducing minimum wage for the workforce

#2 Allowing parent care leave for workers to take care of their parents

#3 Flexi-work arrangements, with guidelines to reduce or stop work-related tasks after a defined workday has ended.

#4 Lower income tax for new parents and higher tax reliefs for those living with parents, to account for higher costs of living.

#5 Unpaid mental health leave for employees to cope with work burnout and attend to mental health needs.

#6 Introduce unemployment insurance, with funding coming from both employee and employer contributions

#7 Make retrenchment benefits required to be given to employees by employers, following TAFEP guidelines.

Read Also: How Much Can Each Candidate Spend On The Singapore General Elections

Singapore Democratic Alliance

The Singapore Democratic Alliance, led by Desmond Lim, released their election manifesto on Facebook. Addressing their core pain points the average Singaporean, they seek to have their election policies carried to ease such pain points.

Tackling The Cost Of Living

#1 Implement a progressive GST taxation system between 3% to 15%. Basic goods and necessities would be taxed the least, while luxury items would be taxed the most.

#2 Change the CPF system so that senior citizens receive CPF savings in full upon hitting retirement age, with a component still reserved for MediSave and MediShield Life

#3 Have an extra 1% to 5% of the Government’s annual net returns on investments to youth be invested in helping youths from disadvantaged families.

Jobs And The Workforce

#1 Have stricter qualifying criteria regulations for local firms seeking to hire foreign workers

#2 Tightened quotas on the number of foreign workers that a company can hire, and tighter labour audits on companies

#3 Require foreign working professionals to come from a Singapore-accredited list of universities

 

Peoples Voice

Lim Tean’s Peoples Voice Party structured their manifesto in 5 areas, which include jobs, CPF, immigration, costs of living and business as well as transparency. Basing on their slogan, “Its Time For Change”, they want to make Singapore Our Home Again and put Singaporean’s interests first with their proposed policies.

Tackling The Cost Of Living

#1 Have the government return CPF to Singaporeans at age 55

#2 Reduce GST rates from 7% to 5% and eliminate GST on essential products such as food or medical services.

#3 Push for rental legislative reforms, in order to make sure SMEs do not get crippled with rent issues.

Jobs And The Workforce

#1 Freeze issuance of new S-Passes and significantly reduce number of Employment passes available to foreign workers. This is to prioritise Singaporeans for jobs which pay $2,400 and above.

#2 Repeal CECA (India-Singapore Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement) completely, so that Singaporeans will have better access to jobs taken by Indian nationals through the agreement.

#3 Implement a living(minimum) wage, with the minimum wage covering the basic standard of living in Singapore after CPF ($1,379 for seniors, according to a NUS Study)

 

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