WHY IS THERE NO ‘POVERTY LINE’ TO HELP THE NEEDY IN SINGAPORE?

1 in 5 Hong Kongers in poverty

I refer to the article “One in five residents lives in poverty: Report” (Straits Times, Oct 13). It states that “One in five Hong Kongers lives in poverty … the poverty line is set at half the median household income”. According to the Department of Statistics’ Key Household Income Trends 2014 – the median household income was $8,290 in 2014. The average household income for the bottom three deciles were $1,775,  $3,641 and $5,226 respectively.

More than 1 in 5 Singaporeans in poverty?

So, if we use the same “half of median income” measure as Hong Kong – does it mean that Singapore’s percentage in poverty may be similar if not worse than Hong Kong’s? As Singapore’s statistics are based on resident households with at least one working person – if we make an adjustment for the 10.4 per cent of households with no working persons  and retiree households, and permanent residents (PRs) – are we worse than Hong Kong?

Cash vs non-cash handouts? 

As to “But after factoring in cash handouts,  the number of poor people fell to 960,000 and the poverty rate dipped to 14.3 per cent – the lowest in the past six years. The fall could also be related to the establishment of the poverty line in Hong Kong in 2013″ – since I understand that much of the government transfers in Singapore are not cash handouts, like Medisave top-ups, Workfare (the bulk of which goes to CPF), etc – aren’t we arguably worse than Hong Kong?

Why no ‘poverty line’?

If we really want to help needy Singaporeans – we should also establish a poverty line, like Hong Kong.
 
Reciprocate trust with more transparency?

Since the people have given their trust and mandate – shouldn’t we reciprocate by being more transparent? We should also spend more to help Singaporeans.

Leong Sze Hian

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