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     Community Issues - Emergence of New Poor a worrying trend

     Emergence of New Poor a worrying trend



Excerpt of article by Lorna Tan in The Straits Times of 28 Oct 2005 (H39)

"Singapore is seeing the emergence of a 'New Poor' who earn more than the bottom 20 per cent but are hobbled by excessive debt to pay for cars and flashy lifestyles.

"This was the startling message from Credit Counselling Singapore (CCS) at a media conference yesterday marking its first year of operations.

"The average debtor on its debt management programme (DMP) is usually male. He is 40 years old, and owes $72,500 to an average of 6.5 creditors, which typically amounts to 28 months of his salary.

"Seven out of 10 debtors on CCS' debt programme come from families with children, and males outnumber females by a ratio of 3:1...

"No figures were available on what the New Poor earn each month. But previous media reports have put the bottom 20 per cent of workers as earning $1,200 or less a month."


Excerpt of letter by Patricia Maria de Souza (Ms) in The Straits Times of 6 Nov 2005 (40)

".....With credit cards being promoted aggressively and a 'You deserve it NOW' lifestyle being advertised seductively, the sensible way of saving for what you want is considered old-fashioned and silly.

"The profile of the 'new poor' is very disturbing. They are highly educated people with well-paying jobs. Has education not served its purpose or has pride in their own self-worth overcome sensible thinking?...

"It is time to re-introduce the Squirrel-saver in primary schools, and include topics on budgeting, borrowing/lending and credit cards into the secondary mathematics syllabus.

"This may slow down the growth rate of the new poor in the future..."


Excerpt of letter by Leong Sze Hian in the Forum Page of The Straits Times of 7 Nov 2005 (H8)

"...In reply to a question in Parliament, it was said that 'as a whole, the number of credit card bankruptcies as a percentage of credit card users is extremely small, at less than 0.05 per cent'...

"The 'extremely small' statistic on credit card bankruptcies in the first half of the year may be just the tip of the iceberg. There are about 30,000 people here who owe more than $20,000 on their credit cards, and three out of four have rolled over their debt in a 12-month period..."