SINGAPORE – Permanent residents and Long Term Visit Pass-Plus holders with Singaporean parents, spouses or children will be able to apply for a one-off Solidarity Payment of $300.
Announcing this on Tuesday (April 7), Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat said this addresses concerns raised by Ms Foo Mee Har (West Coast GRC) about Singaporean households with non-citizen members.
“They currently do not benefit from the cash payouts under the Care and Support Package, but are supporting the family in different ways, through this difficult period,” he noted.
More details will be provided later on the application process.
Responding to MPs including Nominated MP Walter Theseira, Dr Lim Wee Kiak (Sembawang GRC) and Workers’ Party MP Faisal Manap (Aljunied GRC) on providing more cash to tide over different groups of Singaporeans and their families, Mr Heng said the Government will already provide more than what they proposed.
Illustrating this, he said a 50-year-old couple with a child aged 20 years old and below will receive up to $3,200 in cash. This is from the Solidarity Payment, Care and Support Package, and $100 PAssion card top-up in cash.
Low-wage workers on Workfare will also receive an additional $3,000 in cash to help them with their expenses, he added.
Those who are unemployed can receive $2,400 from the Covid-19 Support Grant over three months, and employers will receive up to $31,000 in wage offsets over nine months for each local worker retained under the Job Support Scheme.
Those requiring urgent help with basic living expenses can apply for a cash grant of $500 under the Temporary Relief Fund.
“With this set of schemes, we balance between targeting our support for those who need it more, and flowing support quickly to large groups. It is not an easy balance, and we will do our best to calibrate this,” said Mr Heng.
During the debate on Tuesday, Associate Professor Theseira had also mooted giving all Singaporeans a universal basic income for the duration of the coronavirus crisis, to assure them that their basic needs will be met even if they lose their jobs.
Under his proposal, dubbed the Majulah Universal Basic Income Scheme (MUBI), all Singaporeans – including children and retirees – will get $110 a week for 12 weeks. This will be considered taxable income and cost $4.62 billion. The scheme will be funded by a temporary personal income tax increase of 4.25 per cent. Taxes will only be paid next year, when the economy is expected to have recovered.
After taxes, the less well-off will benefit more from the scheme while the high-income will help to finance it.
Responding, Mr Heng said he fully supports the spirit of Dr Theseira’s suggestion. “Those who have more, should support those who have less. Such solidarity is especially needed in these difficult times.”
He added that some of the Government’s support schemes have to be broad-based, so that the support can be quickly channelled to people.
Mr Heng also reiterated a call for those who do not need the cash payouts to share it with those who need it more by donating to Giving.sg or the Community Chest’s Courage Fund.
Singapore’s ability to put together a support package for Singaporeans amounting to 12 per cent of gross domestic product without borrowing against the country’s future is “testament to the optimal fiscal balance we have sought to maintain over the years”, he noted.
The Government will continue to work hard at this and continue to look at improvements, he said.
For instance, it will study whether self-employed persons should be more systematically included in Singapore’s social security system, as suggested by Dr Intan Mohktar (Ang Mo Kio GRC).
In the same vein, the Government will also look at how artists can self-sustain and be well-prepared for the future – as proposed by Nominated MP Terence Ho.
But the Government cannot do this alone, said Mr Heng. “In the spirit of SG Together, I am glad that many are stepping up to help others.”
For instance, the Community Foundation of Singapore has launched a “Sayang Sayang” Fund which aims to boost the morale of front-line healthcare workers with transport vouchers and some cash support, he said.
Many Singaporeans have also been helping one another, including distributing hand sanitisers, masks, and meals to those who need it more.
“These are spontaneous acts of community support, and I hope they inspire more to do the same. This is the societal cohesion and resilience that we must have.”
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