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Seah Kian Peng: NTUC Will Continue to Help Workers Cope with Rising Costs

Mr Seah also highlighted the challenges facing SMEs.
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01 Mar 2022
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NTUC will continue to do its part to help workers and their families cope with the cost of living through its various efforts.

NTUC Enterprise Group and NTUC FairPrice Group CEO Seah Kian Peng made the commitment in his Budget Debate speech on 1 March 2022.

He was addressing the concerns Singaporeans have on the rising cost of living.

Some NTUC efforts to help include ensuring sustainable wage increases in the form of progressive wages in the Progressive Wage Model, subsidised training, financial assistance schemes, and affordable daily essentials and services through the NTUC group of social enterprises.

Mr Seah said that NTUC also has various charities and foundations such as the U Care Fund, FairPrice Foundation, Orange Aid, Eldercare Trust and Bright Horizons Fund “to ensure those who have less are not disadvantaged.”

To date, over $441 million have been given out, according to Mr Seah.

“Over the years, the NTUC Enterprise group has evolved to be significant industry players today, while continuing to take care of the needs of not just workers, but also their multi-generational families across their different life stages.

“We strive to play our part to moderate prices of essential goods and services, serving as price benchmarks and addressing underserved needs,” he said.

Mr Seah also asked the Government to consider coordinating or encouraging efforts that keep basic items affordable for Singaporeans on a whole-of-government-and-society basis. He added that the effort can either be in the form of giving guidance on specific items or tax incentives.

Additionally, he urged the Government to continue looking out for Singaporeans whose incomes have been lost or reduced during the pandemic, and to provide support for those who might fall through the cracks.

“Perhaps it is not just a matter of having more schemes, but helping more people become aware of and applying for such schemes. Yes, we need to help those less tech-savvy workers to apply for Government schemes.

“These are often the ones who need it most. Even as we help address their welfare needs, we can also help them see where they need help in terms of upgrading their skills and securing jobs,” he said.

Helping SMEs Deal with Cost Pressures

Mr Seah also highlighted the plight of SMEs that are currently facing cost pressures.

Many SME suppliers are all struggling now to manage the cost increases coming from all fronts; some describe it like a ‘tsunami’. Whether it is raw materials, freight, manpower, packaging or cost of energy, everything is more expensive. Added to that the headwinds from tough weather, floods and logistical disruptions due to Covid restrictions,” he said.

He added that the challenges of the businesses will also affect workers because “when businesses fail, jobs are lost too. And behind each SME is a group of men and women with dreams and families.”

He also suggested that the Government considers providing one-off grants to trade associations.

“What can we do to ensure that SMEs have a place at the table? For example, trade associations play an important role in gathering feedback as well as explaining new policies and schemes to its members. Such associations may run on a small budget, which constraints their effectiveness,” said Mr Seah.