Saturday 29 November 2014

More social support, economic boosts likely in Budget 2015

By Nur Asyiqin Mohamad Salleh, The Straits Times, 28 Nov 2014

NEXT year's Budget is likely to contain more measures to provide social support for Singaporeans and to press on with economic restructuring, said Senior Minister of State for Finance Josephine Teo yesterday.

In the first hint of what Budget 2015 might bring, Mrs Teo said Singaporeans can expect a package that builds on the Government's ongoing shifts in social and economic policy.

These include moves "that the Government has undertaken over the last few years to strengthen social support and retirement adequacy", she told reporters at a pre-Budget forum organised by the Ministry of Finance and government feedback unit REACH.

Recent Budgets have introduced initiatives to give more aid to various groups in society - including persons with disabilities, young families and the elderly - and to spur local companies to become more productive.

Support for elderly folk was a particular focus of last year's Budget, when the $8 billion Pioneer Generation Package was announced.

Yesterday's forum, which marked the first pre-Budget dialogue of the year, was attended by about 80 Singaporeans, who gave their views on what they hope to see in Budget 2015.

Having enough funds for retirement surfaced as a key concern, even as the Government conducts a review of possible enhancements to the Central Provident Fund system.

But participants yesterday also discussed measures to help workers develop skills that can keep them relevant in a changing economy, and to give local businesses a leg-up in expanding into overseas markets.

"(These) are important factors to strengthen our economy, which is needed to... provide the social programmes support," said Mrs Teo at the forum, which was held at *Scape in Orchard Road.

Singaporeans can share their suggestions for next year's Budget on the REACH Pre-Budget 2015 micro-site ( or by using the #SGBudget2015 hashtag on Twitter.

They can also e-mail, call 1800-226-0806 or SMS their feedback to 9773-2587.

Booths for people to air their views will also be set up across the island. The first will be opened at the HDB Hub in Toa Payoh on Dec 15 and 16.

These myriad channels to gather input from the public show "how serious the Government is at looking at feedback as well as suggestions from Singaporeans", said REACH vice-chairman and Parliamentary Secretary for Health Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim at the forum.

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