Singapore

Budget 2020 to transform industries, workforce

There will also be measures to support young families in next year's Budget: Indranee

In its Budget next year, the Government will partner and support Singaporeans, transform the country's industries and workforce, as well as ensure environmental and financial sustainability.

Second Minister for Finance Indranee Rajah gave this broad summary of the strategies for Budget 2020 yesterday during a pre-Budget dialogue held at the Asian Civilisations Museum.

Addressing 120 members of the public, she said the Budget reflects Singapore's values and priorities, and the Government wants to craft it in partnership with Singaporeans.

On the economic front, the priority is to help businesses innovate, go regional and build capabilities, she said, adding that workers should upskill and reskill to seize new opportunities and good jobs.

She encouraged more workers to take advantage of the SkillsFuture movement and the Adapt and Grow initiative.

There will also be measures to enable and support young families, and ensure quality and affordable housing and good caregiving arrangements, she said, adding that annual spending of $840 million on the preschool sector would more than double in the years ahead.

She also acknowledged concerns about the cost of living, and said the Government is considering how to best support Singaporeans during this period of economic uncertainty.

"We welcome suggestions from the public on what forms of support might be useful and sustainable," she said.

On climate change, she said more immediate plans to tackle the threat will be unveiled at Budget 2020. Besides environmental sustainability, the Government also has to ensure financial sustainability, she added.

That is why the Goods and Services Tax will have to be raised from 7 to 9 per cent some time between 2021 and 2025.

The major reason for this is that one in four Singaporeans will be aged 65 and above by 2030, and their healthcare needs will spike, she said.

Spending on preschool and early childhood education as well as security will also rise.

"Over the past decade, Government expenditure has more than doubled. While our operating revenue has also grown, it is still outstripped by our growing spending needs," she said.

She also gave the assurance that the Government will roll out an offset package to ease the impact of the hike.

Ms Indranee told participants present that Singapore's fundamentals remain strong.

Despite economic headwinds which have dampened growth, the Republic continues to attract good companies and investments, has a stable and pro-business environment, progressive regulations and a skilled workforce. These allow it to remain nimble and seize opportunities, she said.

As part of the pre-Budget consultation process, members of the public can give their views through the Singapore Budget website, as well as government feedback unit Reach's social media channels and feedback form.

BUSINESS & FINANCE