“Anonymous 10/01/2012 4:26 PM
What type of help are we entitled to – are we beggars? You profess to want to support the caregivers of the elderly and disabled. What help is it when the maids that we need to look after them are taxed (levy). We still pay $170 after the Levy Concession of $95. And the costs of FDWs are going up all the time.
Now you come out with a Foreign Domestic Workers Grant (FDWG) of $120 per month from the MCYS. It is exactly like taking from one hand (levy) and giving back with the other (grant). Moreover to get this grant we need to jump through multiple hoops – means testing, doctor check, maid training, even if we satisfy all the requirements. This grant has been approved for only 50 care-givers so far, and a lot of song and dance has been made on this.
Get rid of the FDW Levy altogether, for looking after the frail, elderly and disabled, if you are really sincere in wanting to “help”. The government is profiteering from this, which makes it a hypocrite.” Unquote
I came across the above comment on Tattler’s blog. Basically, the commenter is saying that the government should not give grant on one hand and impose tax (levy) on the other hand with the nett result that the government still gains from the urgency of employing maid to look after an invalid parent. Is it right and proper to “make money” from low income earners? (Households who wish to apply for this grant must have a per capita monthly income of $2,200 or less) Is it right and proper to “tax” filial piety when I employ maid to look after my parents? I am not asking for free hand-outs from the government. Neither am I asking the government to look after my invalid parents. No. I am paying from my own pocket to employ a maid to look after my invalid parents so that I could go out to earn a living. Given the circumstances, why should I be taxed by the government? Why is the government so ‘hard-up’ on this revenue – tax on filial piety. Is it right and proper?
What is worker levy actually? From my understanding, it is a levy (a form of government tax) imposed on foreign workers seeking employment here. It is not only a form of revenue for the government but could also be used as a tool to control the population of foreign workers. It works hand in hand with foreign worker quota. For example, every foreigner you employ, you will need x number of locals. Even if you fulfill the foreign worker quota requirement, all foreign workers are still subject to tax. This is to encourage businesses employing more locals so that they need not pay the foreign worker levy. In principle, it is a necessary tool to regulate and control the population of foreign workers in our country. It also protects locals from being priced out by cheaper foreign workers.
The above is applied to all sectors of the economy where there are foreign and local workers. But why is it applied on maids? I am referring to foreign domestic workers. (maids) Do we have local maids? In other sectors of the economy, we have foreign and local workers. But for maids, have you heard of any local working as household maid? Is there any quota for maids? What is the rationale for paying levy on maids? In other countries, there is no levy on maids. Why do we have it here? To bring in more revenue for government coffers?
I don’t employ maids. I won’t know much about maids. But the day may come when I have no choice but to employ a maid to look after my invalid parents. If I earn sightly more than $2,200 per month, I am not entitled to any grant. I will have to pay the full amount of levy (tax) on a maid. It is clearly a form of revenue for the government. How could I afford it? I will face financial hardship for sure. It is pure common sense. Do I have a choice? What can I say?
Maybe, the government thinks that by imposing a levy on foreign maids is to control the number of foreign maids here. They do not want every family to own a maid. If that is the case, then the government will have to assess the needs of each family. If I earn about $2,500 a month and I really need a maid to take care of my invalid parents, I should not be paying the levy if the government is sincere in helping citizens like myself. It is also not cheap to send our invalid parents to the old age home unless like someone suggested send them to JB nursing homes instead which are much cheaper! No GST and no levy!
Our income tax or GST may be low, but there are all kinds of indirect taxes. COE, ERP, cigarettes & beer tax, water & electricity tariffs, WC waste disposal, refuse tax, property tax, used to be TV & Radio licence fees, fines or surcharges for late payment of bills, petrol & diesel tax, All kinds of licences eg selling liquor or cigarettes, hawkers, entertainment licence, security airport tax, etc etc. What about all the fines collected on petty offences such as illegal parking even though no obstruction is caused etc. In other words, there are one hundred and one taxes & fines around you; just like a minefield where you’ve to walk carefully. One wrong step, it might explode on your face and blow away a limb or two! It’s getting rather stressful and headache living here.
Hence, if you read at the comment quoted above, you will notice the bitterness, frustration and helplessness of the writer. Why must we pay maid levy? Why give grant on one hand and then put terms and conditions or obstacles if one wants to apply for the grant? The needs and urgency of getting a maid to look after invalid parents so that the children could go earn a living far outweighs the need for revenue right? Most of the citizens feel that the government is always looking at ways and means to “tax” everything from the people.
With reducing earning power due to the massive influx of foreign workers, high costs of living, aged parents to look after and higher levy on maids getting more expensive, people like us earning between $2,500 to $3,000 are the hardest hit. It is citizens within this income bracket – majority of heartlanders are falling through the crack. Pls do not say that we could apply for government grant on a case by case basis when “we need to jump through multiple hoops!” like what the writer said.
Think about it for a moment – Just forget about taxes on certain things. Levy on maid for lower income needy families is a case in point. Do not get addicted to taxes and levies on all things thinkable. Just do your part by spending tax payers’ money prudently and stretch every dollar. Like I used to say if you earn $10,000 a month but spend lavishly on high dinning, clubbing and luxury goods, money sure not enough. It is the same with government expenditure. If you harbour the morbid mindset bent on buying $2,200 bicycles or office chairs costing hundreds of dollars with lofty justification, surely money is not enough? Even my 13-year old boy knows this fact! But some don’t and still insist it is worth it; value for money. Langgar.
Needy families to get monthly $120 maid grants
Tuesday, Aug 07, 2012
SINGAPORE – More than 6,000 households will receive $120 per month over the next five years under the Foreign Domestic Worker Grant when it starts this October.
The grant will provide support to families whose domestic workers help to take care of family members who are frail or with moderate disabilities.
Households who wish to apply for this grant must have a per capita monthly income of $2,200 or less.
For those with no income, the annual value of their property should be less than $13,000.
In addition, the foreign domestic worker must be taking care of an elderly person or person with disabilities who have been assessed as having at least moderate disabilities by a panel of general practitioners.
For instance, they require assistance with activities such as showering, bathing, feeding, dressing, toileting, transferring or mobility.
The estimated budget for the grant over the next five years is $25 million.
It was first announced by Minister of State for Community Development, Youth and Sports, Mdm Halimah Yacob, at the MCYS Committee of Supply debate in March this year.
Mdm Halimah said the grant will help alleviate the cost of families who hire Foreign Domestic Workers to take care of frail or disabled family members.
“As caring for the frail elderly and disabled can be challenging, I also hope that more families will send their foreign domestic workers for training so that they can be better equipped to serve as caregivers,” she said.
Households will need to send their foreign domestic workers for relevant training in care giving.
The existing Caregivers Training Grant (CTG) can be used by eligible persons to defray the cost of training.
The grant is now open for application. Application details for the FDWG are currently available at CEL’s website (www.cel.sg).
Households currently receiving the Foreign Domestic Worker Levy Concession will also receive a mail package containing information on the application procedure and the necessary application forms in the next few weeks.