Budget 2018 debate

MPs' suggestions include job contracts, AI hub, housing grant

MPs made various suggestions in the first day of the Budget debate yesterday, from measures to help older workers draw up favourable contracts to having mandatory workplace safety and health officers for every company. These were some of their recommendations:

BETTER CONTRACTS FOR OLDER WORKERS

Social service and community development agencies can help older workers draw up favourable job contracts, suggested Non-Constituency MP Daniel Goh. The agencies can provide advice and retraining opportunities to improve workers' income prospects as well.

ADJUSTING FOREIGN MANPOWER MIX

The mix of local and foreign manpower could be adjusted to support certain growth areas like data analytics, artificial intelligence and cyber security, said Ms Foo Mee Har (West Coast GRC). This should be done while maintaining the overall ratio of local to foreign talents in the workforce and a manpower-lean approach.

PROMOTING WORKPLACE SAFETY

It could be made compulsory for all companies to appoint a Workplace Safety and Health representative, said Mr Melvin Yong (Tanjong Pagar GRC). He said this could be achieved by making it a requirement, for a start, under the BizSAFE Level 3 certification on workplace health and safety .

HELPING STUDENTS KNOW THEIR INDUSTRIES

There should be programmes to better explain Industry Transformation Maps to students in institutes of higher learning who are poised to enter the respective sectors, said Mr Desmond Choo (Tampines GRC). This is so that businesses, workers and students are plugged into the relevant plans and developments.

REVIEWING OPERATIONS OF GIG PLATFORMS

There should be a review of the operations of companies that provide a platform for people to take on gig work, such as Grab, to better protect gig workers, said Mr Ang Hin Kee (Ang Mo Kio GRC). He said it is only right for such firms to take on more responsibilities as they grow.

A.I. TECHNOLOGY HUB

The Government should invest in an artificial intelligence (AI) technology hub, just as it invested in Biopolis for bioscience, proposed Dr Tan Wu Meng (Jurong GRC). This is to maintain some public-sector ownership, intellectual property and insights in AI research.

REVIEW PROXIMITY HOUSING GRANT

Mr Darryl David (Ang Mo Kio GRC) asked if the Proximity Housing Grant for people buying flats near their parents could be based on a percentage of a resale flat's selling price, instead of a fixed amount. He suggested that it would benefit those whose parents live in mature estates with higher property prices.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 28, 2018, with the headline 'MPs' suggestions include job contracts, AI hub, housing grant'. Print Edition | Subscribe