SINGAPORE (Feb 18): Lower-wage and older Singaporean workers aged 55 and above will receive more support with the introduction of the Budget 2019 measures, announced Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat during his Singapore Budget speech today.

For one, enhancements be made to the current Workfare Income Supplement (WIS) scheme, which provides cash payouts and CPF top-ups for workers whose earnings are in the bottom 20 percentile.

Come January 2020, the qualifying income cap for WIS will be raised from $2,000 currently to $2,300 per month.

Maximum annual payouts will also be increased by up to $400, with older workers receiving higher increases in their payouts.

“For example, workers aged 60 and earning $1,200 a month will now receive $4,000 per year from WIS, or almost 30% of their wages,” explains Heng.

According to the Finance Minister, these enhancements to the WIS will cost the Singapore government an additional $206 million per year, such that the enhance WIS is expected to cost close to $1 billion a year while benefiting close to 440,000 Singaporeans.

Further, the government intends to review the relevance and structure of its current Special Employment Credit (SEC) and Additional SEC (SEC) schemes.

The review will come in tandem with recent recommendations from the Tripartite Workgroup on Older Workers, which is presently in the midst of reviewing policies such as the retirement, re-employment age, and the CPF contribution rates of older workers.

The Workgroup is due to present its recommendations later this year.   

In the meantime, both schemes will be extended for another year until Dec 31 2020, while the SEC Fund will be topped up by $366 million to support this extension.

 “I am happy that companies have responded by hiring older workers, tapping on their experiences, and supporting them in upgrading their skills. With a tighter labour market and more Singaporeans choosing to work longer, more companies will be hiring older workers,” says Heng.