Friday, October 4, 2013

"Working poor" in Singapore can't make ends meet: NUS

Earlier last week, there was a news article on "working poor" in Singapore.

The article say that a new study has shown that the working poor in Singapore are not getting enough pay to make ends meet. The term "working poor" puzzled me and I read on. According to the article, "working poor" is defined as someone whose income per household member is less than half of the national median per capita household income of Singapore, which now stands at S$1,920.

Based on this definition, someone whose income per household member is less than $960 per member is considered as "working poor". Extrapolating this further, if you have the following household income for the corresponding number of household members, you are considered to be "working poor".

no. of household
1 $960
2 $1920
3 $2880
4 $3840
5 $4800
6 $5760
and so on....

Interestingly, a similar definition is used by Hong Kong for "poverty".
An extract of the article:
Hong Kong on Saturday announced its first benchmark to measure poverty and found almost 20 percent of residents live in such conditions, a move hailed as a step towards tackling worsening inequality.

The poverty line, marked at half of the median household income, showed 1.31 million people in the city were living in poverty, a rate of 19.6 percent, based on official data from 2012.

The study in the 1st article also stated that "more than 300,000 Singaporeans and Permanent Residents who earn less than S$1,500 a month, excluding employer CPF contributions, despite working full-time."
If these household have 2 or more members, they would have been considered as "working poor".

With rising cost of living, it makes us wonder how the poorer residents struggle to make ends meet in Singapore. 

I will end off this post with a few questions we we can ask ourselves:
1) Is the workfare income supplement (WIS) scheme sufficient? Are workers really being trained to increase productivity? 
2) Should we have a minimum wage scheme?
3) Are you willing to pay more taxes so that the government can raise social spending to help the disadvantaged?

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