S’porean asks to increase local qualifying salary to S$2,000 to meet ‘forever increasing’ cost of living

Singapore — A member of the public has highlighted that the salary being paid to local Singaporeans is not enough to cover expenses. He hopes for a shift of emphasis to improve living standards.

Beginning Sept 1, 2022, companies that employ foreigners are mandated to pay all local workers a minimum Local Qualifying Salary (LQS) of S$1,400.

According to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), the LQS “determines the number of local employees who can be used to calculate a company’s Work Permit and S Pass quota entitlement.”

It was previously known as the Full-Time Equivalent salary.

“The LQS ensures that local workers are employed meaningfully, rather than being employed on token salaries to allow the employer access to foreign workers,” said MOM.

“This also ensures that our quota controls remain effective and keep pace with income levels.”

Under the LQS, a Singaporean or Permanent Resident employee employed under a contract of service is counted as one local employee if they earn the LQS of at least S$1,400 a month.

They will be counted as half a local employee if they earn half the LQS of at least S$700 to below S$1,400 a month.

In other words, if a company has 20 local employees and needs two local employees to qualify for a foreign worker, it will need to pay all 20 local staff the LQS first before becoming eligible for the foreign worker quota.

However, one Paul Antony Fernandez highlighted that the LQS amount of S$1,400 was not enough to cover Singapore’s “forever escalating costs of living.”

“Being born and bred in Singapore since 1965, I am bewildered at this low salary,” said Mr Fernandez in a report on Sunday (Sept 12).

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He highlighted examples such as a cup of coffee at a Kopitiam, which increased to S$1.80, meaning a breakfast meal would cost about S$5.

“Goods and Services (GST) costs are forever increasing regardless of whether many are jobless with no savings or even part-time income,” added Mr Fernandez.

“To peg the Local Qualifying Salary at S$1,400 monthly will not help any of us, and we all will still end up borrowing money to survive,” he added.

Meanwhile, the concerned individual noted that Employment Pass holders receive a starting salary of S$4,500.

He asked why there was reluctance in increasing the LQS amount when employers could afford high costs in hiring foreign workers.

“I am not proposing the LQS to be pegged at $4,500, rather what I humbly propose is for a start pegging it at $2,000 monthly,” wrote Mr Fernandez.

He added that it was not mentioned if the LQS will increase or remain stagnant amid rising costs of living.

Members from the online community agreed with the suggestion and provided a breakdown of monthly expenses, highlighting the current amount was not enough.

“To my knowledge, we are paying foreign domestic helpers $700 to $1,100, and it’s accepted it’s not enough for them, so they will be working on their off days. Ps: FDW do not pay for their food, lodging & medical. The workforce earning $1400 is required to pay for food, lodging, transportation etc., so how is $1,400 enough?” asked Facebook user Punam Dhawn.

Facebook user Jordy Goh computed that only S$220 would be left after all necessary expenses were deducted from one’s salary.

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Photo: FB screengrab

However, Facebook user Kenneth Chan mentioned that other expenses such as dentist appointments would further decrease savings. /TISG

Read related: Man comments in FB group ‘Indians In Singapore’ that a S$7200 salary may not be enough to ‘live comfortable’

Man comments in FB group ‘Indians In Singapore’ that a S$7200 salary may not be enough to ‘live comfortable’

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