TL;DR – Nope! If anything, the Government gives NTUC Social Enterprises more work.
In Singapore, there’s an impression that NTUC is in every area of business.
It seems that its activities extend from cradle to grave. There’s some truth in that. It’s part of the Labour Movement’s strategy to provide essential goods and services to cater to the different stages of life of Singaporeans. That is NTUC’s commitment to ensure that the working people of Singapore have access to essential services at affordable prices so that the working people of Singapore can stretch their hard-earned money.
For instance, NTUC FairPrice has worked to keep the prices of essential goods. The most recent example is how NTUC has brought in affordable formula milk options. That was after the high prices of formula milk caused unhappiness among parents.
NTUC Social Enterprises do more than provide goods and services
But NTUC isn’t a charity. So while it tries to provide access to essential goods and services to Singaporeans at affordable prices, it has to do so in a sustainable way. That’s why NTUC’s businesses are deemed to be social enterprises.
As if the challenge of providing affordable goods and services in a sustainable way isn’t tough enough, the government often asks the various NTUC Social Enterprises to help develop or spearhead certain changes in the respective sectors they operate in.
That’s one of the main points that Minister Gan Kim Yong made at a recent session of LM Conversations, an on-going series of dialogues between union leaders and ministers of different ministries.
And this is something Minister Gan is very familiar with. Because Minister Gan, as Minister of Health, is one of those people who asks NTUC Social Enterprises for help and support. His ministry is working with NTUC Health to develop the senior care and aged care sectors.
Minister Gan highlighted that given the ageing population, it’s important to scale up the capabilities and capacities of those sectors very quickly. That’s why his ministry is working with NTUC Health to provide training to professionals in that sector as well as training for caregivers.
This can happen because of symbiotic relationship
So it’s not true that the government gives NTUC Social Enterprises many advantages and freebies to run their businesses profitably. If anything, the government gives NTUC Social Enterprises more work, making their work even more challenging.
But why would NTUC Social Enterprises give the government ‘face’ and help them? They could jolly well refuse when the government asks them to help develop various sectors.
But help they will. For as long as the Labour Movement can see that these are initiatives and programmes that will benefit the working people in Singapore and their families. And yes, also because the government and NTUC has shared a close relationship since the the early nation-building days of Singapore.
Some would call this sort of relationship a symbiotic one. And Singaporeans are the ones who benefit from such a relationship. That’s why we are happy that NTUC has affirmed to strengthen its relationship with the government. It bodes well for Singapore and Singaporeans.