What Singaporeans Want
2016 saw a multitude of events that affected the ordinary Singaporean.
Some highlights include the discontinuation of the “Achievement Band” grading system to the “Overall Grade” scheme in Primary Schools; Mr Murali Pillai’s victory in the Bukit Batok by-election; the next presidential election being reserved for Malay candidates; and of course, SMRT train delays.
While some are thrilled with the decisions made, others were not. However, there’s no point in crying over spilt milk, moving onwards to a better future is what counts.
A pre-Budget 2017 “live” Q&A session was held on Jan 6, where netizens got to express their concerns to two members of Parliament. Government Parliamentary Committee (GPC) for Finance, Trade and Industry chairman Liang Eng Hwa and GPC member Foo Mee Har replied live on Reach Singapore’s Facebook page.
A range of topics ranging from transforming businesses, worker’s skills and supporting families were covered. But first:
What Is The Singapore Budget?
The Singapore Budget is about allocating resources. To fund the Budget, the Government extracts money from the economy through taxes, fees and charges, among other things.
Some money from investment returns from past reserves is used too. They then allocate the money to where they think it’s needed most; like education, housing, or defence, to name a few areas.
Where more money is needed (i.e during a recession), the Government might run a deficit, hoping it will give the economy a boost. In the event where all the money collected isn’t completely used up, the savings go into the reserves, where they grow and can be used in the future.
Essentially, the Budget is for the Government to put money to good use for the country’s future.
Here’s what we would like to see in Budget 2017:
1. More Incentives For Parents
New parents who want to offer their children the care and support they require without sacrificing their jobs will benefit from additional incentives.
As of Mar 24, 2016, under the Child Development Account First Step Grant, parents get $3,000 upfront. A new pilot initiative KidStart for young kids who require support and Fresh Start Housing Scheme that provides grants of up to $35,000 for families with young kids in rental housing.
We hope to see more improvements made to aid Singaporeans who have done their “national duty”.
2. More Aid For Persons With Disabilities
Allocate a sum to help the disabled to improve their way of life. Courses and training programmes that prepare them for job opportunities that can upgrade their skills will go a long way.
And, further to that:
3. Help SMEs Stay Ahead Of The Competition
Analytical data on the trend of consumerism in relevant markets/industries is available. If such data is shared with SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises), it may better equip the businesses to stay ahead in times of tough competition and enhance their competitive edge.
4. Provide Incentives For Companies To Offer Flexi-Work
“There’s no such thing as work-life balance in Singapore.” – That’s a sentiment many of us share.
Achieving work-life balance shouldn’t be unattainable in Singapore. Other than maternity and paternity leave, flexi-work hours should be widely practiced by more companies.
By providing incentives for companies to offer flexi arrangements, Singaporeans can start to achieve that work-life balance we strive for. Also, flexi-work might just be the one thing we need to help boost our all-important productivity. Probably.
5. Personal Income Tax Relief To Benefit More Individuals
The total amount of personal income tax relief a person can claim is capped at $80,000 for 2016. But only 1% of individual taxpayers actually hit this cap, according to Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat.
In lieu of the slowing economy and jobs that have been lost, we’d like to see the tax relief benefit more taxpayers in Singapore; with the wealthiest 5% getting taxed more than others.
6. Increase wages of Early Childhood Educators
Teachers play a vital role in the development of young people, especially early childhood educators, who basically play the role of surrogate parents in a child’s formative years.
However, they are not paid enough, given their vital role in shaping young lives. Many early childhood educators do not get more than $2,000 a month, with principals’ salaries not exceeding $3,000.
If countries like Switzerland and Netherlands can see the importance of compensating their educators accordingly, Singapore should do the same.
Singaporeans’ Benefit Should Be The Priority
The new year brings new possibilities. We hope Singaporeans will be able to benefit from Budget 2017, whatever the outcome.
You can also leave your feedback for Budget 2017 here. The portal closes on Jan 13.
The 2017 Budget Statement will be delivered by Mr Heng on Feb 20.