SINGAPORE: Ms Foo Mee Har, MP for West Coast GRC, speaking in Parliament on Monday (May 26), urged the Government to rethink some policies that support two groups of Singaporeans: Middle-income Singaporeans and professionals, managers and executives (PMEs).
Ms Foo said that while the lower-income group and elderly Singaporeans had much to benefit from this year’s Budget announcements, the middle-income and working professionals continue to struggle to cope with rising costs of living, feel intense competition for jobs and are the most vulnerable to being made redundant.
She pointed out two areas of focus – housing and jobs.
On housing, Ms Foo highlighted that the aspiration of upgrading is important for the middle-income, many of whom have been frustrated by property cooling measures affecting the Loan to Value (LTV), Additional Buyer Stamp Duty (ABSD) and Total Debt Servicing Ratio (TDSR).
Ms Foo gave the example of a household purchasing a new “second” private property while owning a flat, only to sell it when the property is ready a few years later.
She said the maximum loan value, at only 50 per cent, as well as an ABSD of 7 per cent cash upfront puts the upgrade out of reach.
Ms Foo suggested the Government consider collecting the ABSD upon completion of the new property. Additionally, she suggested that if the upgrader sells the first flat within a specified period, he or she should not need to pay the ABSD at all.
On jobs, Ms Foo said the Government’s manpower policies for PMEs should transform from a defensive, anti-discrimination position to one that actively promotes and champions the hiring and development of Singaporeans.
She said employers should be obliged to prove the lack of suitable locals who can perform a job function before a foreigner is hired. Ms Foo said this practice would mean more scrutiny of companies’ employment decisions, while ensuring Singaporeans have the “first bite of the cherry”.
Ms Foo also proposed that employers who hire foreigners implement a formal training and development system for Singaporeans as part of their manpower policies.