DBS Bank has announced that it will retrench 900 employees. More than half will come from its operations in Singapore.
Many companies in Singapore are expected to retrench their employees in the months ahead, following the slowdown in the global economy. Analysts expect that the number will exceed the 30,000 people retrenched during the Asian financial crisis in 1998.
Singapore does not have an unemployment insurance scheme. The retrenched employees will find it difficult to find alternative jobs. They are likely to be unemployed for several months or years.
I wish to suggest that the Government set up an Unemployment Loan scheme to provide a monthly payment to the retrenched employees. I propose this scheme to work as follows:
a) The amount of loan will be at 70% of the average earnings, subject to a cap of $2,000 a month
b) Interest will be charged at 2.5% per annum
c) The loan will apply to a worker who has been retrenched from a job that he has worked for more than 12 months.
d) The loan can be drawn for up to 24 months from the date of retrenchment.
e) Any retrenchment benefit received by the worker should be used first, before the worker is allowed to draw down on this retrenchment loan.
This loan will enable to retrenched worker to meet the mortgage repayments and family expenses. It has to be repaid in the future, when the retrenched worker has found a job. Any unpaid balance of the loan will be recovered from the Central Provident Fund savings of the worker.
This is similar to the Unemployment Benefit operated by many countries - with one key difference: the proposed scheme provides the monthly payment as a loan that is repayable at a modest rate of interest. The retrenched employee who needs money does not have to rely on credit cards and loan sharks that charge a high rate of interest.
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