The budget attempts to 'save jobs' by having a wage credit for companies. Up to 12% of the first $2500 of wages will be subsidised by the government. It seems like a really innovative approach at the first glance.
I have a different take altogether. In the nutshell, nothing has changed for the common man actually.
In this wage credit, the government tops up the remaining employer's CPF contribution. This top-up amount is taken from the CPF. After topping up the employer's contribution, it goes back to you and back into your CPF account. And ultimately back into the government's hand.
CPF (can't touch this) -> Wage Credit -> You -> CPF (can't touch this)
All in all, there is nothing to 'dip into the reserves' coz it's all transparent to you. It's like using your own money to fund yourself.
CPF is not like an account where you can withdraw at your whims and fancy. Neither were you given cash. So I do not see how the budget has helped a common man in this aspect. The only advantage it has is the employer pays less CPF contribution. How that constitutes to you saving your job is yet to be seen. I hope it does.
However this employer CPF contribution policy is also set by the government. So if companies feel the pinch, isn't it because this government's policy has created such scenario? Wouldn't it be better if the employer's CPF contribution be part of a worker's pay?
I do not want to dwell into past histories of the benefits of the CPF. There are a few angles to look at it.
Basically I do not think this Budget 2009 was impressive. One would have thought 'rainy days' might demand a more radical approach.
Let's hope I am wrong.