Not for love of money, but of Humanity. "Greater is he who works for the good of all, then he who works for the good of himself only" ~ Matthew 25:40: "The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'"- (NIV). I live in Singapore where the Emperor must not be disturbed.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Current Foreign worker levy system- is it unnecessarily confusing, a waste of manpower and time?

The immediate problems with the current system ('Levies & quotas for hiring Foreign Workers') are multifold:
- Current problems with:
  • Phantom Singaporean/ PR workers [tremeritus. e.g.],
  • False declaration of qualifications,
  • False declaration of salary band and corporate tax evasion through salary refund schemes (worker refunding employer agreed portion of salary),
  • Misuse of one type of permit for other types of work: e.g. maids helping behind scenes with employer's hawker business.
- Future problems:
  • Government created imbalances in workforce supply/ demand: e.g. the artificially low discounted foreign domestic worker levy of $170/mth as compared to other levies which reach $500/mth means that the demand for locals to be domestic workers would be small (given easy access by employers to foreign domestic help with low levy threshold)- this means that those with poorer educational qualifications and the mentally less able would suffer the problems of persistently low salaries in menial jobs by virtue of immense competition from foreigners (low levy threshold to their employment).
  • The opacity and rigidity of levy schemes would also make MNCs hesitant to invest locally in growing industries as without a certainty of local workforce available, it would be difficult to ascertain one's labour costs since the pricing of levies varies vastly according to worker nationality proportions. There might also be confusion about what skills qualify for levy discounts since not all recognised skills might be necessary for a certain position and likewise not ever able worker carries the specific local certification. Is safety literacy even a necessary qualification?What happens when a worker attains the necessary qualification- does his current levy fall?

Besides phantom workers, faked qualifications and hyper-inflated salary scales with secret refund agreements, what other levy evading tricks do employers have up their sleeves either intentionally or unintentionally?

I think that the best way forward is for all foreigners in Singapore to bid for levies like COEs- each for 2 years (non-refundable) which is transferable via re-registration a fee payable to MOM by the employer. A trial 1 month work visa at higher rates per person per 4 yrs is also available for work tryouts before a formal work permit is decided upon.

All non-citizens and non-PRs will have to abide by these work permit rules for work in a licensed trade show (Abercrombie and Fitch models/ boat show deals are probably excused (domiciled/ legally bound by laws of country of trader origin)).

This I feel will keep the local workforce fluid adaptable and the MOM more efficient and less bureaucratic.

Hopefully with the increase in administrative transparency and efficiency, the stresses of working at MOM may be reduced as well as the demands by staff at MOM for excessive comfort gadgetry 'Designer chairs for MOM staff' [MyPaper, 25Mar2011]: "Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has spent almost $272,000 to buy a total of 472 Herman Miller chairs for its staff."

Hopefully, with better ease of administration and so reduced costs of maintaining the MOM, nett govt revenue from the sale of fixed numbers of foreign worker levies can increase and so negate the need to increase GST (as the PM Lee has on 08June2012, implied he should do [pict][link: see bottom]).

This image has been resized.Click to view original image
[pict source: Singapore's growth expected to slow in next decade - Channel NewsAsia]
09July2012: Foreign worker levies managed by MOM- is it unnecessarily confusing n waste of time?

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