Should Singapore implement a universal basic income?
In anticipation of the rising economic insecurity and inequality brought about by the digital revolution, many countries around the world are considering giving their citizens a universal basic income (UBI), regardless of how wealthy they are or whether they are working. With a system that does not require the monitoring of how the money is spent, some argue that the UBI may be more cost-effective and less bureaucratic than traditional forms of welfare. Also, others have suggested that if set at appropriate levels, UBI actually may motivate people to find more meaningful work. However, in a society as conservative as Singapore’s, where people need to be employed to qualify for the Workfare Income Supplement for low-wage workers, representatives will need to consider how palatable the UBI would be to Singaporeans in general. Furthermore, representatives can also consider other alternative forms of assistance that perhaps would better suit Singaporeans, such as a minimum-wage law.
Should more be done to help low-income families?
While Singapore may be one of the richest countries in the world, our social spending and tax rates remain relatively low. Instead of social “safety nets” that provide heavy welfare subsidies to the underprivileged as expounded by Scandinavian countries, the Singapore government champions a system of “trampolines” that balances both personal and governmental responsibility. Yet, with Singapore ranking 149 out of 157 countries in Oxfam’s controversial Commitment to Reducing Inequality (CRI) Index 2018, there have been renewed calls for the government to provide more aid to low-income families. Thus, representatives should debate on the extent of governmental intervention in Singapore, while considering potential unintended consequences of greater aid, such as higher taxes. That said, beyond economic aid, representatives should also examine the appropriateness of other mechanisms used to uplift the poor and ensure social mobility, such as education to mitigate intergenerational poverty.
Income Inequality in Singapore
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