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#SGBudget2020: Wishlist and what to expect

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Ahead of tomorrow's (18 February) #SGBudget2020 delivery in Singapore's Parliament, NTUC Assistant Secretary-General Patrick Tay has released his wishlist on how the Budget can help workers.

In a Facebook post on Friday (14 February), he shared that with businesses being affected by the ongoing COVID-19 situation, concerns had been raised by some workers on whether their jobs would be impacted. To this, he urged: "In these times, we urge companies to take reference from the tripartite guidelines on managing excess manpower and cut costs to save jobs instead of cutting jobs to save costs."

At the same time, he stressed the importance of workers to upskill, reskill and multi-skill, in order to be ready for any opportunities that come along.

In line with that, he shared his hopes that this year's Budget will look at further enhancing the absentee payroll and course fee funding so while companies can receive greater support in investing in their workers, workers can also "stay engaged, empowered, employed and employable in this uncertain economic landscape."

And while he said this of businesses, he also noted that freelancers and self-employed people won't have access to employer sponsorship to obtain course fee fundings.

Thus, to help this group, he said: "To encourage more self-employed persons to come forward for training, we hope that (the) government can look at extending absentee payroll to freelancers and the self-employed by restoring the Surrogate Employer Programme."

View the full post below:

In a separate wishlist for the upcoming Budget, Ernst & Young Solutions (EY) has put forth considerations in key areas, one of which covered training and employment in Singapore.

For instance, the firm urged the government to consider using a targeted funding model for the SkillsFuture Credit initiative.

Samir Bedi, EY Asean Workforce Advisory Leader, said: "It is critical that Singaporeans continuously upgrade themselves and keep their skills relevant to seize new opportunities in this ever-changing environment.

"Going into the fifth year of introduction of the SkillsFuture Credit, it is timely to consider a more targeted funding model to address the specific gaps that remain – whether it is to encourage skilling in certain sectors or demographics or to meet particular workforce demands.

Additionally, Bedi also talked about providing support for transformation in Industry 4.0, proposing additional grants and funds that will enable SMEs to "transform with accelerators for redesigning jobs and reskilling."

Apart from the above, the firm also touched upon reliefs that are "traditionally" provided only to working mothers.

Currently, the Grandparent Caregiver Relief (GCR) and Working Mothers Child Relief (WMCR) are given to encourage mothers to stay in or return to the workforce. Married women and divorcees and widows with school-going children can claim these reliefs; However, if the working mother is not able to utilise the relief due to not earning enough taxable income, the benefit to the household is lost, the firm stated.

Thus, Panneer Selvam, Partner, People Advisory Services – Mobility, suggests: "Given the rise of dual-income families, these reliefs would be more beneficial to the household if they could be shared with the husband, perhaps on the condition that the wife is also working."

Given the current COVID-19 situation, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat said yesterday, that the upcoming #SGBudget2020 will focus on broad-based measures to help companies stay afloat through wage support for companies to preserve jobs for local workers, tax rebates and rental waivers.

This, he said, will help "support viable companies and help workers stay in their jobs."

Additionally, more support will be given to sectors that have been "harder hit" by the virus, including the F&B and retail sectors.

He added: "We will also  support firms and workers to make the best use of this period to restructure, train, and upgrade, so that we will emerge stronger when the eventual upturn comes."

Photo / 123RF

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