Reason for having maid (or helper) in Singapore
Before talking about the cost for having a maid in Singapore, for most households (not the rich and spoilt type), let us delve into the reason for having a maid first.
1. There is no grandparent, and both parents are working, hence no one to take care of a child (or children). For most Singaporeans, there is no problem with having grandparents at home looking after children, but for some Singaporeans or PRs, having a grandparent at home is a luxury. An alternative would be to sacrifice the mother's career and ground her to being full time housewife.
2. Sicked and disabled elderly, with working adults out of the house during weekdays. If the sons are working and at least one is married, a daughter in law can take care of the elderly (unless she is working as well). An alternative would be to sacrifice someone's career and ground him/her at home taking care of the elderly (without compromising the cost of medical bill).
There are other reasons as well, but these two reasons are the most important and justified for having a maid at home. In my opinion, levy should not be imposed on households having these two valid reasons for having maid at home.
Cost (or budget) for having a maid at home
It irks me seeing people discussing that maids salary is very low and the salary should be revised and increased (without paying any consideration for the maid's employer). Cost of having a maid is much higher than most people come to realize.
As of 2012
Maid salary = S$430/mo (maid loan is deducted from here and an upfront amount is required by agency)
Maid levy = S$265/mo
Agency fee = S$500/transaction (average) (equiv. to S$20.80/mo)
Maid insurance & bond = S$325/2 years (equiv. to S$13.50/mo)
Bed/mattress = S$150/maid (equiv. to S$6.25/mo)
Food/toiletries = S$270/mo (if you don't cook at home often)
Total sum = S$984.75/mo
Do you think this is the cost of getting a maid? If so, you are wrong. We haven't factored in the accommodation cost for a maid living with us. If we can rent out the room a maid occupy, following a market rate this year (plus water and electrical bills waived), it costs S$300/room (minimum) to S$500/room depending on location.
Grand total of having a maid in Singapore = S$1284.75/mo to S$1484.75/mo. That amount is more than some of my relatives earn per month without over-time (OT). The S$430/mo "basic salary" can be considered savings after "expenditure" (in other word, the maid don't have to use the S$430/mo for her stay in Singapore unless she goes shopping (or for phone bill) or remit the money home).
Summary: It is not easy financially and mentally for having a maid at home for most "average" households. We lose our savings and our privacy. It is only due to our basic needs (care for infant/elderly with no other person at home), that we compromised. It is a shame Singapore still lack affordable basic care services for infants/elderly and that most offices still don't encourage mothers to continue their careers by providing a childcare in their vicinity.