Today, there are 250,000 Singapore citizens and residents living in poverty – up to 10 percent of households in Singapore.

Speaking at the Progress Singapore Party’s first-ever PSP Talks session, “Poverty in Singapore and Gaps in Our Social Safety Nets”, former GIC Chief Economist Yeoh Lam Keong said that the government has a duty to help the poor break the poverty trap.

This, he said, because poor policy-planning among other factors put them in that vulnerable position.

Among the “policy errors” highlighted by Mr Yeoh was the allowing of excessive immigration of unskilled workers, which further depressed wages of those already struggling to make ends meet.

The number of people living in poverty is expected to spike in the coming years, as the Baby Boomer Generation head into their twilight years.

A key factor, said Mr Yeoh, is the gap in Singapore’s social safety net, which does not provide sufficient aid for the elderly to meet their basic needs.

Mr Yeoh said that the government has the ability to do much more in lifting individuals from poverty – increasing spending on welfare to 1 percent of GDP is “eminently affordable”.

And such measures will invigorate Singapore’s economy over time.

However, he believes that “irrational beliefs” are holding government leaders back.

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