I REFER to yesterday's front page report, 'Next: Remaking economy'.
The Jobs Credit scheme has saved many jobs and helped many firms survive the downturn. It is the most massive cash injection by the Government to boost the economy so far.
Like any other cash assistance, the impact will not last long unless the money is well spent by the recipients.
We have to ask: Besides sending workers for training, what else have we done during the last 10 months to prepare ourselves for the challenges ahead?
How many firms have seriously reviewed their businesses, management and operations?
How many have looked for new opportunities here and overseas?
How many have embarked on plans to raise worker productivity?
Are workers given the opportunity to practise what they have been trained to do?
We cannot continuously use taxpayers' money just for saving jobs. Assistance in the future should aim more at helping firms improve their businesses per se and create jobs.
Firms that have taken action in these aspects should be given priority in getting assistance.
If we agree to take this approach, then new criteria must be set and made known to firms, unions as well as employees.
Ng Ya Ken
'The lack of statistics may be a reason for lingering scepticism about its success.'
MR GILBERT GOH: 'The Jobs Credit scheme has helped the economy greatly by slowing down retrenchment and provided a lifeline for many ailing small businesses. Many would have collapsed if not for it. The scheme's success would have been more apparent if the Government had provided corroborating data.
It would help to answer questions like how many businesses benefited and whether firms continued retrenching staff after receiving cash injections from the scheme. How many companies still went under despite receiving the Jobs Credit during the past 12 months?
Equally useful would be accompanying research to examine ways in which tax dollars are given only to companies which deserve the cash injection. The lack of statistics may perhaps be a reason for lingering scepticism about its success. Retrenched workers may well argue that it would have been better if they were given the money that went to the scheme. Perhaps more can be done in similar situations in future to offer retrenched workers a one-time welfare relief.
Otherwise, the Jobs Credit scheme might also be seen as a cash injection which mainly benefits employers.'
This article was first published in The Straits Times.