Why subsidise singles?

PUBLISHED : Friday, 05 December, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 05 December, 2003, 12:00am

I refer to the article 'Educators propose area for cuts' (December 2).

I agree with Leung Shiu-chuen that some of the benefits given to native English-speaking teachers (NETs) should be adjusted, specifically their 'special allowance'. This subsidy will be adjusted downwards in August 2004 from $13,000 to $10,561 because the overall cost of living has declined in the past several years.

However, why hasn't the allowance been linked to cost of living indices so the adjustment could have been gradual? Surely the government could have saved a lot of money over the years. Let's not also forget that the $10,561 subsidy is still more than the majority of the population makes in a month.

While I realise that NETs will face the same pay cut of 3 per cent in January as other teachers, I believe a $10,561 'special allowance' is still excessive for those NETs who are not married. Certainly the government should realise that the cost of living for someone single is different than for a family. Thus, there should be a lower allowance for them or perhaps none at all.

The government needs to vigorously rethink NET compensation sooner rather than later.