After 5 hours of debate, it was proudly reported in the Strait Times papers today that almost all MPs who debated about the minimum wage in parliament yesterday argued that implanting a minimum wage in Singapore would do more harm than good.
Seeing that the Strait Times papers is a government-owned paper, this is not surprising. However if you read between the lines, it also tell you something else. Simply, what Singapore has in place right now does not work!
Instead of a minimum wage, Singapore currently has something called Workfare Income Supplement (WIS) scheme. The WIS is a regular payout given to encourage low-wage workers to stay employed. On paper it sound like a good scheme, but unfortunately the Singapore government shot itself in the foot by putting a large part of the Workfare funds into the worker’s Central Provident Fund (CPF).
Considering that the average worker gets about $80 a month in cash from Workfare, it’s no wonder most people (including it seems some PAP MPs in parliament) feel that Workfare doesn’t help low-income workers. Think of it this way; if the Workfare (as it is) works, why is there a need for a 5 hours debate in parliament?
The Singapore government can argue all it wants about NOT implanting a minimum wage in Singapore, but there’s one thing they can’t get away from. The WIS scheme as it is does not work.