Thursday, 5 July 2007

Written Answer To Question For Oral Answer Not Answered By 3.00 PM: 21 May 2007

This was the only OPQ I filed for May. In the end, I let it lapse and took my chances with a written answer, because the docket of PQs looked so heavy that I didn't think it would have been answered anyway, plus I had a full slate of 5 WPQs for the next day's sitting which I wanted answered.

This question relates to retrenched PMETs, specifically their incomes upon re-employment relative to their pre-retrenchment incomes. We have only ever seen statistics from the Government on re-employment numbers, but nothing on the incomes. In other words, we have "quantitative" data on re-employment, but not "qualitative" data in terms of the quality of such re-employment, i.e. whether the new job pays as well as the previous job.

When MOM published its paper on re-employed retrenched workers, that was the same. But when I read the paper closely, I was not convinced that it was not possible to get some sense of the "quality" of re-employment. The numbers of re-employed workers was derived by looking at retrenched workers' CPF contributions.

It seems to me a trivial task, in this day and age, to query the CPF databases, so as to ascertain whether the post-re-employment CPF contributions for this group is higher or lower than the pre-retrenchment CPF contributions. If we can use CPF data to ascertain whether a retrenched worker has been re-employed, why can't we take it that one step further?

I was not convinced by the Minister's response. Cynics will surmise that the Government simply does not want that data to come out into the public domain, because it is not positive. Indeed, anecdotal evidence suggests that retrenched PMETs are frequently re-employed in poorer-paying jobs.

But the PQ system is probably not the right platform to make this argument, since it is a little complex and takes time to develop. I'll just have to wait for another opportunity to raise this again.

(Statistics on Income)

Mr Siew Kum Hong: To ask the Minister for Manpower (a) whether the Ministry has begun to collect statistics on the income of re-employed Professionals, Managers, Executives and Technicians compared to their previous income; (b) if it has not, whether the Ministry intends to do so and when; and (c) if the Ministry does not intend to do so, what is the reason for it, given that CPF records were used for the Ministry’s recent paper "Retrenchment and Re-employment 2006" and can be used to derive this data for most income-earners.

Dr Ng Eng Hen: MOM regularly publishes labour statistics in compliance with international standards. For example, in our quarterly and annual reports we provide data on employment, unemployment, wages, retrenchment and job vacancies, etc. This information is reliable as it applies to groups and for that point of time when the information is collected.

However, the type of information requested by the member requires data for specific and the same individuals to be collected over a period of time. As these longitudinal studies require more time, effort and resources, MOM does not conduct these studies routinely but periodically, when more detailed data is needed for policy considerations. Examples of such studies include the "Retrenchment and Re-employment 2006" cited by the member which looks at all retrenched workers. MOM will consider the member’s suggestion for a study on PMETs.


Kaffein said...

Perhaps I'm more cynical in terms of how government portrays the data and what it wants the readers to know about.

Data is supposed to be translated to information which can be analyzed to help the government in looking at ways how the current situation is impacting the common people.

I must commend that it was a brilliant idea to delve deeper into the CPF contributions by re-employed retrenched workers. I am surprised the MOM thinks it can be a negative portray.

It says a lot indeed if their earnings had indeed taken a dive as most of us feared: When you reach the magic 40, time to readjust and scrimp. Don't expect life in Singapore to be good. Don't expect free lunches too.

If that is the kind of image I am receiving now, one expect more people to leave Singapore to other shores with any reomote chances they get. Which is already happening, isn't it?

These sons of Singapore will not hesistate to say farewell to the country once called home.

Your thoughts and blog articles have been a very strong encouragement to me. You are one of the few that brings truly the voice of the common to the parliament house.

Thank you.


Siew Kum Hong said...

To Kaffein: Thanks for the encouragement. It's actually been a pretty tough and frustrating couple of days for me, in terms of my feelings about being an NMP. I might blog about that separately. But your kind words are helpful. Thanks.

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