COS 2022: Clarifications on Own Account Workers’ Welfare and Lifetime Retirement Investment Scheme

MP Louis Chua

Mr Chua Kheng Wee Louis (Sengkang): Thank you, Chairman. I have just got two clarifications.

The first is regarding the own account workers’ welfare cut that I filed on the gig economy workers. I just wanted to ask if efforts can be done to ensure that they at least earn a fair wage in terms of reference to locals working part-time earning at least $9.00 per hour as per the LQS, given that these workers are not really in control in terms of their earnings power and are subject to all these incentives?

The second is in relation to the cut on the Lifetime Retirement Investment Scheme (LRIS). My question is whether or not the Expert Investment Council has completed its work and whether the Government still intends to roll out the LRIS. The reason being if you look at where the global markets have been since August 2016 when the recommendations were put forth, they have been up 67%, so this delay does have real cost and opportunity cost to our members in terms of their retirement adequacy.

Dr Koh Poh Koon: Sir, I will take the first clarification from Member Louis Chua about the equivalent of minimum wage for gig workers in the platform economy. The whole definition of a gig worker is that they have the flexibility to work as many hours as they want, whenever they want and with whichever platform they want.

So, it is very hard for us to then decide what would be the minimum wage that they can earn if they do not clock certain minimum number of hours. That is the flexibility that is inherent in the nature of the work. We must recognise that it is difficult for us to set that.

The market, of course, can decide at some point but in our work looking at the platform workers, we are specifically working at three areas, which are the housing and retirement adequacy, basic workplace protection against injuries, and some of these payment-related algorithms or wage-related outcomes could well be left to the third part of the work, which is on representation by either a body of platform workers; or the unions as a voice for the workers to seek better compensation and remuneration.

Mr Chairman: Mr Liang Eng Hwa. Yes, Minister.

Dr Tan See Leng: Mr Chairman, may I answer Mr Louis Chua’s second point. Just to reassure the Member, we are indeed still evaluating. There has been a black swan event that has happened within the last two-and-a-half years and, given the current volatility and the crisis in Russia and Ukraine, if we had taken on certain positions just prior to this in, say, 2019 and so on, we would have been quite badly affected. So, I think that when it is ready, we certainly will come back and update everyone in Parliament. Thank you for your patience.

9 March 2022
Ministry of Manpower

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