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By: Gerry Ong | 22nd Mar 2016
With the Budget being announced on Thursday, Singaporeans both online and offline have been discussing whats on the cards for our little city-state in the year to come. All eyes are on Mr Heng Swee Keat, as he prepares to deliver his first budget. Here are the four things he needs to address in his first budget as Minister of Finance.
According to a poll by the government feedback unit, Reach, Singaporeans are most concerned about job security in 2016. With our economy slowing down rapidly, it’s no wonder that the ordinary man on the street is concerned about keeping his job. According to statistics from the Ministry of Manpower, the number of redundancies and retrenchments have been rising for the past six years hitting a high in 2015, and it’s looking like 2016 will be no different.
A little-known fact about Singapore is that we are by and large powered by our SMEs. SMEs in Singapore employ 70% of Singaporeans and contribute about 50% of our country’s GDP. It’s extremely disturbing then, that according to the SBF-DP SME Index and index that SME sentiment index, SMEs don’t think that they’ll grow in the next six months. In fact, SME confidence is at its lowest since this index was first published in the first quarter of 2010.
Mr Ho Meng Kit, CEO of the Singapore Business Federation summed up the kind of support businesses in Singapore are looking for, saying
“In the short term, the Singapore government could look at ways to help SMEs tide over the current challenging conditions, for example, by reviewing high business cost and holding back any increase in the foreign workers levy. In the medium to long-term, the government could adopt a more pro-business approach in policy formulation and development of enterprises. Further measures to encourage worker skills upgrading, innovation and internationalisation by companies will be greatly welcomed.”
As more Singaporeans retire, more government support will be expected to aid them. The Action Plan for Successful Ageing report released by the government in February included about 60 initiatives that address a wide range of issues related to ageing and include raising senior employability, skill levels, new transport plans to make public transport more senior friendly and even improving inter-generational interactions.
As the overall demographics of Singapore shift in line with the ageing population, more policies are expected to be put in place, that allow senior workers to remain functional contributing members of Singaporean society.
As Singaporeans get better educated, more of them choose to focus on work in their early years and are increasingly settling down later on in life. The result? Increased difficulty with conception. Assisted reproductive procedures are on the rise in Singapore in part because of government subsidies in the field and more are looking for help in this area. The availability and cost of child/ infant care are also pressing concerns for most young families since both spouses tend to work these days.
Which of these issues do you think is the most important?
Former banking lizard, startup ninja and trainer turned writer. A coffee to content conversion system who writes by day and codes by night. Lives simply, thinks deeply and exercises never.