It’s that time of the year for CDC vouchers!
Yes, that’s the popular scheme that first took us through the Covid pandemic and later the painful imported inflation as global supply chain was disrupted by the Russia-Ukraine war. Not only have the vouchers increased in value (from $100 in 2020 to $500 today), but the number of participating merchants and hawkers has also doubled. Speaking at the launch on Wednesday (3 Jan), Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) Lawrence Wong said, “The CDC Vouchers Scheme is part of a comprehensive package that the Government has implemented to cushion the effects of inflation.”
As the cost-of-living pressure continues to bite, here are three other things the PAP Government is doing to help Singaporeans through difficult times.
1. Rebates, top-ups and cold, hard cash
Last month, as part of the Assurance Package, all adult Singaporeans received up to $800 in cash. However, more targeted help is coming in the months ahead. To offset the increase in utility bills, eligible HDB households will receive U-Save and Service and Conservancy Charges (S&CC) rebates every quarter this year. In addition, there will be cash payouts for eligible seniors and MediSave top-ups for seniors and children in February.
Now, the list goes on if we were to include public transport vouchers, pre-school subsidies, an enhanced baby bonus, a Majulah Package and higher HDB housing grants. Together, these initiatives will go a long way toward taming the beast known as inflation in the short term. That brings us to the next step – ensuring Singaporeans are well-insulated against future shocks.
2. Concrete policies to create good jobs and fuel wage growth
The PAP Government is well known for being able to look beyond a crisis when it comes to formulating policies. While we dish out short-term measures to alleviate economic pains, we never forget to plan for the future and invest in key sectors and capabilities. Most of us will agree that handouts and rebates are not a long-term solution. However, expunging fare hikes or objecting to the GST (as proposed by the Opposition) is hardly ideal. Neither sensible nor sustainable, burdening the future generation with unimaginable debt should never be on the agenda. For this reason, the PAP Government is going all out to create good jobs and fuel wage growth.
One of the ways is through the Progressive Wage Model (PWM). With lower-wage workers bearing the brunt of inflationary pressures, the PWM is at the core of helping workers beat inflation in the long run. By providing clear career pathways and sustainable wage increases, we can improve the wages and well-being of our lower-wage workers, said Minister for Manpower Dr Tan See Leng. And combined with an ecosystem that encourages lifelong learning and embraces innovation, that is how the Government intends to future-proof Singaporeans.
3. Community efforts by PAP MPs, Branch Chairs and activists
Finally, beyond nationwide policies are the ground-up efforts spearheaded by our MPs and branch activists happening year-round. Over in Punggol West, the monthly Project 100:50 helps residents with the cost of living by selling groceries at half the price, said MP Ms Sun Xueling.
Meanwhile, in Zhenghua, MP Mr Edward Chia has partnered with various stakeholders to ease the cost of living for his residents. The Good Grocery Truck initiative and NTUC FairPrice have delivered thoughtfully curated care packs for our Zhenghua families, shared MP Chia.
Of course, the help continues into opposition wards as well. Over in Kaki Bukit, Branch Chairman (BC) Mr Shamsul Kamar continue to lead volunteers, distributing hot meals to rental flat residents every month. “We are glad the families involved would save on their lunch meal costs, easing their cost-of-living concerns,” noted BC Shamsul.
Today, the cost-of-living pressure is a global problem. Violent conflicts and geopolitical tensions are also creating upheaval around the world. But amidst the chaos, one thing has remained constant. That is the unwavering commitment of the PAP to support the needs and aspirations of Singaporeans. Ending his speech at the CDC vouchers launch, DPM Wong once again provided us with the following assurance.
“The global economy remains vulnerable and fragile… Therefore, the Government is monitoring the situation…(and) studying additional measures to support Singaporeans,” said DPM Wong. As for what kind of help, we will have to wait until Budget 2024 on February 16 to find out.
Photo Source: Denise Phua/ Lee Hsien Loong/ Tan See Leng/ Sun Xueling/ Edward Chia via Facebook