Singapore Budget Reaction: OCBC exploring ways to return wage credit scheme payout to staff

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OCBC Bank is exploring various ways of giving back the Wage Credit Scheme payout from the government to its employees again this year following the announcement by Singapore's finance minister that the scheme would be extended for another two years.

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam told Parliament on Monday in this year's Budget Statement that the scheme will be extended for 2016 and 2017 to give employers more time to adjust to the tight labour market. This extension will cost the government about S$1.8 billion in total.

Cynthia Tan, Head of Group Human Resources, OCBC Bank, said: "We welcome the extension of the Wage Credit Scheme which would definitely continue to benefit companies and help them better manage rising business costs.''

"Last year, we received very positive feedback from our employees when we chose to give the S$3 million Wage Credit Scheme payout to them, allowing them to save the money in their CPF accounts or invest in blue chip stocks. For this year, we will continue to explore various ways of giving back the payout that will benefit our employees."

In May 2014, OCBC was the first organisation to announce its decision to give the S$3 million Wage Credit Scheme payout from the government to 1,500 eligible Singaporean employees of the bank and its securities subsidiary, OCBC Securities Pte Ltd (OSPL).

The payouts ranged from S$1,000 to S$3,000 per employee. They had the choice to have the payouts credited to their CPF accounts or invest in shares via the OCBC Blue Chip Investment Plan. These 1,500 employees make up about 25 per cent of OCBC Bank's and OSPL's total staff strength in Singapore of more than 6,000. The Wage Credit Scheme payouts attributable to employees who had left the bank were invested into additional training programs for junior executives and non-executives.

The Wage Credit Scheme was introduced by the government in Budget 2013 to help businesses cope with the rising wages in a tight labour market while encouraging them to invest in productivity and share productivity gains with their employees. Under this scheme, the government co-funds 40 per cent of the gross monthly wage increase given - over the period of 2013 to 2015 - to Singaporean employees earning a gross monthly wage of less than S$4,000.

READ MORE: Singapore Budget 2015: Key policy measures

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