Budget 2019: Singapore defence budget 'significant, but indispensable'
Finance Minister says Singapore's defence, security and diplomacy efforts require 'significant, but indispensable' spending
Close to 30 per cent of the Government's total expenditure this year is being set aside to support defence, security and diplomacy efforts, which is "significant, but indispensable" spending, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat said in his Budget speech yesterday.
And the Government will invest more, if the need arises, to protect Singapore's sovereignty and Singaporeans' well-being, he said.
About $22.7 billion - or 28.3 per cent of the $80.3 billion total budgeted expenditure - is set aside for the Defence, Home Affairs and Foreign Affairs ministries this year.
The lion's share goes to defence expenditure, which is expected to increase by 4.8 per cent to $15.5 billion. Spending for the other two areas is expected to be steady at $6.7 billion and $0.5 billion respectively.
Last year, about $21.9 billion - about 27.8 per cent of the $79 billion revised total expenditure - was allocated to the three ministries. Besides building good relations with other countries through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr Heng noted how the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) lends weight to diplomatic efforts and ensures negotiations with Singapore are taken seriously.
"Should diplomacy fail, we must stand ready to safeguard our interests, and defend ourselves," said Mr Heng, adding that Home Team agencies and the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore also ensure a safe and secure environment for all.
He said Singapore must continue to innovate and build new capacities to meet security needs.
In the same vein, the Ministry of Home Affairs will set up the Home Team Science and Technology Agency by this year, to develop capabilities and support the ministry's operational needs.
Every Singaporean also needs to play a part in keeping Singapore safe and secure through the Total Defence approach, said Mr Heng.
At the national level, Singapore plans long term and takes measures like stockpiling critical supplies, diversifying sources of water supply and strengthening its food security.
Mr Heng's emphasis comes as Singapore and Malaysia are discussing several bilateral issues, which include disputes over maritime borders, airspace management and water prices.
Last December, Malaysia also announced it was considering limiting or stopping egg exports, and restricting exports of certain types of seafood.
Mr Heng added that as a people, Singaporeans must have the "psychological and emotional resilience to face crises stoically".
"As threats get more sophisticated, Singaporeans must stay vigilant and guard against non-conventional forces that threaten to divide us."
He urged families and employers to support national servicemen in every way possible.
Meanwhile, Mr Heng noted that a sixth pillar of digital defence was just incorporated to Singapore's Total Defence framework. "Like other pillars of Total Defence, digital defence involves everyone - individuals, community groups, businesses, and the Government," he said.