Monday, October 19, 2009

Lesser mortals should not hire foreign workers

From No cap to employers' liability for foreign domestic worker's medical bills: MOM,

Senior Parliamentary Secretary, Manpower Ministry, Hawazi Daipi, said: "Employers who make the decision to bring foreign workers in Singapore would bear the cost of their care. Otherwise hospitals will run deficits which are ultimately paid for by the taxpayer."

only to be followed by

On whether part of the foreign maid levy could go towards paying for any excess beyond the maximum liability, MOM said as with other taxes collected, the levy is part of government revenue and not earmarked for specific expenditure.

Who exactly is the taxpayer again? If you call a tax, a levy, it is not a tax any more? So we ignore the upfront cost to the "levy-payers" but fret about the "ultimate" cost to the "taxpayer"?

Translation: I earn a million bucks a year. My helper's medical cost is not likely to bankrupt me. Good luck to the lesser mortals who earn so little. If you have the audacity to hire a foreign domestic worker, then you die is your business. The levy is just compensation for marring the landscape and polluting the air.

We welcome you bringing in high class foreigners though. We even allocated millions to help them "integrate". We love them deep deep, even though their income tax on average is barely more than the FDW levy, but because it is a tax, which is probably earmarked for something, rather than a levy, which is earmarked for nothing.


  1. Cynical viewpoint but not too far off the mark.
    Clearly, it is the employer who can only marginally afford a foreign maid who is mostly guilty of never paying the maid or never sending the maid for medical care.
    Paying a little more for a higher medical coverage buys peace of mind for the affluent employer but adds more load for the marginal employer who already struggles with quite a financial burden for the privilege of having some domestic help.

    To all intents and purposes, levies and taxes are similar to the long suffering citizenry.
    Then again as consolation, as long as the monies go into the governmental coffers and not into some corruptible official's pockets, most will sigh but accept it grudgingly.

  2. fair dinkum,

    while I agree that there are plenty of FDW employers who cannot afford to pay a single cent more than the bare minimum, it is not always a given that only the poorest are guilty of neglecting the medical needs of their helper.

    Furthermore, it may be rare, but how comfortable is the average FDW employer with the risk of a $100,000 or larger bill?

    And coming back to the same old question: What right does the government have, to create a levy for FDW but not provide any service? To raise the costs of FDW to protect jobs of competing Singaporeans?

    In some country, some tea party was started with the mantra, "No taxation without representation." I dont want representation, I just want something back in exchange for the FDW I pay.

    The government can replace the levy with a compulsory medical insurance. At $170 monthly for medical insurance, I'm sure companies can profitably offer coverage in excess of $100,000, without any added burden to employers.

    The truth is the government is addicted to the FDW levy revenues and have to cut other services, say the millions for integrating more "valuable" foreigners, if FDW is earmarked for FDW needs.

  3. Good post. Thank you for this information.