Hi: Saw the below article in my inbox recently.
Let's take a moment to think about the earning power of (1) Singapore's poorer citizens and (2) Singapore's foreign maids.
Let's say Madam Jin Pai Mia is a 55-year-old spinster belonging to the Low-Income Singaporean category. She works as a cleaner in a commercial office building and earns S$900 a month.
Madam Jin takes the MRT to and from work every day. That's about S$1.50 x 2 x 24 days = S$72 a month. She pays about $$60 for her water and electricity bills at home. She eats three meals a day, each costing an average of $$3.00. That's $$3.00 x 3 meals x 30 days = $$270 a month on food. Let's say Madam Jin falls sick once in a while and needs to see the doctor. We'll put it at $$20 a month. She rents a flat from the HDB. Let's say it's $$250 a month ( I don't know how much it costs - it's just my guesstimate ).
That's $$672 on basic stuff like transportation, water, electricity, food, medical care and accommodation. After deducting $$672 from Madam Jin's monthly salary of $$900, she's left with $$228.
Now, a foreign domestic maid gets about $$300 a month. However, the maid does not need to spend money on public transport to get to work each day. Her employer pays the electricity and water bills and provides three meals a day. The maid's accommodation is essentially free. If the maid falls ill, the employer is, by law, responsible for her medical expenses.
So when the maid gets $$300 a month, the maid really earns $$300 a month.
However, when Madam Jin gets $$900, she's really earning just $$228 a month.
The basic idea is quite simple. Although foreign maids get low salaries in Singapore, their employer covers almost all their necessary expenses - food, accommodation, utilities, medical care etc. When you factor all that in, you will see that the average foreign maid's earnings are quite comparable to the earnings of the average Singaporean in the bottom 20% .
Thus, we can say that one in five Singaporeans is no better off than a foreign maid.