Singapore Manpower Minister Josephine Teo said that the government’s current programme to provide support to retrenched mid-career workers is “more sustainable” than a proposed unemployment insurance scheme.
Teo was responding to a proposal by Sylvia Lim, MP for Aljunied Group Representation Constituency and chairperson of the Workers' Party, during a budget debate in Parliament on February 26, Today reported.
According to Teo, the government will “keep an open mind” on the proposed unemployment insurance, but mentioned several negative outcomes of implementing the programme. Teo said that it may lead to workers losing motivation to find a new job, as well as discouraging employers from paying retrenchment benefits.
The opposition Workers Party has proposed unemployment insurance several times in the past. The party included it in its manifesto for the 2011 General Election, and Lim also proposed it during the 2016 Budget hearings, the report said.
“Today’s economic climate illustrates how such insurance could provide a stabiliser to workers, to soften the cliff-edge that they face with job disruption,” Lim said. “If the anxiety of citizens is not taken seriously enough, the door to populism and nativism will widen.”
In her response, Teo said that most countries that have unemployment insurance have high unemployment rates, which is not the case in Singapore. She also highlighted several efforts by the incumbent government, such as Adapt and Grow and SkillsFuture, which seek to help workers gain new skills to re-enter the workforce.