Wage top-up scheme for low-income workers to undergo review

Wage top-up scheme for low-income workers to undergo review

singapore cleaner
A worker cleans a tunnel walkway in Singapore. (Photo: AFP/ROSLAN RAHMAN)

SINGAPORE: A Government scheme to boost the salaries of low-income workers will undergo a review, with many previous recipients no longer qualifying for wage top-ups as their incomes had grown. 

The Workfare Income Supplement (WIS) is reviewed every three years, with the last in 2016. The upcoming review will be led by Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad, with the results to be released next year.

Mr Zaqy wrote in a Facebook post that the number of WIS recipients has fallen from 389,000 in 2015 to 366,000 in 2017. The scheme provides payouts of up to S$3,600 annually in cash and Central Provident Fund (CPF) top-ups for qualifying recipients. 

"On further examination, it soon became clear why this had happen," he wrote. "A total of 42,000 WIS recipients saw their incomes increase above the WIS income ceiling in 2016 and 2017.

"In other words, they 'graduated' out of WIS because they are now earning more. This is not a bad development at all." 

Mr Zaqy added that the wages of low-income workers have grown faster than inflation. Compared to median income workers, wages at the lower end also grew faster in the past five years. 

For the next review, Mr Zaqy has pledged to ensure that more than 20 per cent of Singaporean employees continue to receive WIS, even as their wages improve.

During the last review, WIS payouts were increased from S$100 to S$500 for those earning monthly wages of between S$1,000 and S$1,600. The qualifying monthly income ceiling was also raised from S$1,900 to S$2,000. 

More details on the review will be announced in Parliament next week when it sits.

Source: CNA/fs