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Budget 2018

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  • Queen of sgForums
    驚世駭俗醜不啦嘰 moderatress
    FireIce's Avatar
    265,286 posts since Dec '99
    • Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat to deliver Budget 2018 at 3.30pm on Feb 19

      Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat will deliver Singapore's Budget statement for this year on Feb 19 at 3.30pm in Parliament.

      The Ministry of Finance (MOF) and government feedback unit Reach said in a statement on Monday (Feb 12) that a live webcast of the Budget Speech will be available on the Singapore Budget website.

      MOF is partnering the Singapore Association for the Deaf to provide simultaneous sign language interpretation of the speech on the website.

      In addition, there will be real-time updates of key announcements from the speech on the MOF Facebook page and Twitter account.

      The public may use the hashtag #SGBudget2018 to view Budget-related tweets and postings.

      The speech will also be broadcast live on Channel NewsAsia and 938Now, on the Channel NewsAsia website, and on Mediacorp's Toggle.

      The public can also subscribe to the Budget statement mailing list to receive the full Budget statement via e-mail after it has been delivered. They can sign up for the service from now till Feb 15.

      There are various feedback channels for the public to submit their views on the announced Budget measures after the speech has been delivered.

      These channels include the Singapore Budget website, Reach discussion forum, Reach Budget microsite, Reach Singapore Facebook page and Reach's toll-free hotline on 1800-353-5555.

      Reach will also be organising a Budget 2018 Conversation on Feb 20, which will be hosted by Senior Minister of State for Law and Finance Indranee Rajah and Reach chairman Sam Tan.

      Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim will chair the Reach-Berita Harian Budget 2018 Conversation in Malay on Feb 28.

      The public can also participate in a Budget 2018 Facebook Q&A session on the Reach Facebook page on March 1 from 8pm to 9pm.

      To provide feedback in person, the public can visit Reach's Listening Points at several booths across the island on various days from Feb 21 to March 4. Some of these booths are at One Raffles Place, River Hongbao Pets Fiesta at The Float @ Marina Bay and Teck Whye Market Square.

      For more details, e-mail Reach at [email protected] or visit the Reach Budget 2018 microsite.

       

      The Straits Times will be covering the Budget live. Get real-time updates and watch live streaming at www.straitstimes.com. There will also be videos explaining key Budget announcements as well as a special-edition Budget e-mail newsletter. Visit ST's Budget microsite at str.sg/budget2018 for more Budget stories.   

  • Queen of sgForums
    驚世駭俗醜不啦嘰 moderatress
    FireIce's Avatar
    265,286 posts since Dec '99
    • More help wanted for fresh graduates

      Singaporeans young and old tell The New Paper their wishes for Budget 2018

       

      By taking charge of his own learning, Mr Y.Y. Ling, 26, has had his fair share of challenges.

      The film-maker said more can be done to support fledgling businesses and young people starting out in their careers.

      Mr Ling said when he first became interested in the industry, the transition from graphic design to film-making was costly and not accessible.

      "Learning a new skill costs more than the $500 SkillsFuture budget we are allocated, and to support the transition into new industries, there needs to be more extensive subsidies, and the courses available should be more intensive," he said.

      "Most of us turn instead to seeking knowledge online or learning from our own experiences."

      He said the process to access funds and support for small start-ups is so time-consuming and complicated that it could set such businesses back by months - time that they do not have.

      He said: "The processes are so complicated that there are start-ups dedicated to help other start-ups navigate the application for funding.Perhaps some money can go into working out systems and infrastructure for start-ups to tap in to."

      Mr Ling circumvented the issue by seeking ways to independently fund his project - including the use of crowdfunding - but he added that should there be more support, start-ups will likely flourish even more.

      Meanwhile, undergraduate Esther Yeoh, 21, is concerned about the job hunt she faces when she graduates.

      Last year, it was reported that fresh graduates have been finding it harder to secure full-time employment in the last few years.

      SKILLS GAP

      Miss Yeoh, who is studying English literature and European studies, hopes for more courses to help graduates bridge the ever-widening skills gap they face when they enter the workforce.

      "The Government, with its SkillsFuture Credit, is doing a good job, but I am thinking of courses that help people cross that bridge from university to work, instead of just reaching out to people who are already in the workforce," she said.

      These courses could teach skills such as photo editing, marketing, graphic design and communications in a way that is aimed at young graduates, she said.

      How will the Budget tackle issues such as transport, technology and the environment?

      TRANSPORT

      "Greater regulatory oversight" may be needed in the private-hire sphere, said Singapore University of Social Sciences economist Walter Theseira.

      "There may be only one ride-hailing platform that will control virtually all ride-booking services and have unprecedented control over prices, where rides are available and who can work as a driver.

      "It may not be necessary to regulate overnight, but the tools should be in place to monitor the market," he said.

      Dr Theseira added that Singapore might invest in electric vehicles or autonomous vehicles, both of which will require new infrastructure if they are to be adopted by the masses.

      TECHNOLOGY

      Mr Benjamin Chiang, partner at Ernst & Young Advisory, said there should be more initiatives to enhance Singapore's digital literacy and mastery, with necessary systems in place to "build and maintain digital trust".

      There is also a need to "nurture a vibrant ecosystem of private sector business for smart cities to thrive", he said, with possible approaches including encouraging funding for targeted innovative companies and enhancing the effectiveness of research and development incentives.

      ENVIRONMENT

      Associate Professor Rajasekhar Balasubramanian, who is the deputy head for Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the National University of Singapore, said 2018 will be the year of climate action in Singapore.

      He said: "I foresee allocation of more research and development funds with a stronger commitment from the Government to transitioning to a low-carbon economy."

      This can be achieved by improving energy efficiency and conservation, decarbonising electricity and fuels, and switching end-users to low- carbon supplies.

      He said deep cuts in carbon emissions are needed to prevent adverse impact arising from climate change, and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions will have beneficial effects on public health.

      Budget 2018 wishlist: More training opportunities for elderly

      Mr Malcolm Chen is 72 years old, and his goal is to keep the wheels of learning turning.

      This positive attitude to lifelong learning has translated into the retiree starting his own non-profit organisation, known as Ageless Bicyclists.

      Under this banner, he has been teaching children with special needs to cycle.

      However, he first had to learn to be a cycling coach, as well as understand how to deal with children who are differently abled.

      "I think the Government can put more funds into training courses such as SkillsFuture so that people like me can constantly upgrade themselves," Mr Chen told The New Paper.

      "The courses can be more specific as well - tailored to people in certain age groups. I know there are courses for mid-career professionals, and it would be nice to have some targeting say, the pioneer generation. "

      In terms of healthcare, Mr Chen is happy with what the pioneer generation currently receives.

      However, he hopes that more can be done in terms of transport infrastructure, especially in areas with a higher proportion of elderly residents.

      "They should do away with the button that you have to press to get the traffic lights to turn green. Instead, they can just let the lights turn green at regular intervals.

      "Sometimes, older people like me forget to press the button and we stand there waiting for the lights to turn green," he said.

      Mr Chen also felt that the traffic light duration for people to cross the road should be longer in areas where more senior citizens live.

      "Sometimes, the road can be so long and the duration of the green light doesn't give me enough time to cross," he added.

      Currently, the elderly and people with disabilities can get more time to cross the road, but they have to first tap their cards on the card reader on the traffic light pole.

       

      TNP

  • Queen of sgForums
    驚世駭俗醜不啦嘰 moderatress
    FireIce's Avatar
    265,286 posts since Dec '99
    • Budget 2018 likely to focus on raising revenue: Experts

       

      This year's Budget looks set to focus on raising revenue to fund the big-ticket initiatives introduced in recent Budgets to strengthen the social safety net and boost economic restructuring, experts said.

      In unveiling it on Monday, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat will likely also explain why Singapore needs to broaden its sources of revenue, said Mr Liang Eng Hwa, who chairs the Government Parliamentary Committee for Finance, Trade and Industry.

      Tax consultants believe the most likely source of additional revenue will be the goods and services tax, which some predict would go up by 1 or 2 percentage points. Last raised in 2007, the GST - at 7 per cent now - is one of the lowest among developed countries.

      In past Budgets, the big-ticket items were multi-billion-dollar measures such as the Pioneer Generation Package and Industry Transformation Programme, as well as higher payouts to the less well-off from programmes such as ComCare and the GST Voucher Fund.

      "With these long-term plans in place, it is timely to look at how we can finance what we have set out to do in a responsible and sustainable way, so I think this year, the focus will be a lot on that," said Mr Liang.

      Singapore has produced overall Budget surpluses in recent years only by drawing on the net investment returns (NIR) framework, which allows the Government to spend up to half of the long-term expected real returns from assets managed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore, GIC and Temasek Holdings. Since Temasek's inclusion in the framework in 2015, the NIR has contributed more than $14 billion annually, making it the largest source of Budget revenue.

      It would be prudent to now ex-amine where else the Government has scope to raise revenues, said Mr Liang.

      Deloitte Singapore tax partner Danny Koh said the GST rate would likely be raised by 1 or 2 percentage points. "We would propose the Government consider a staggered increase of 1 percentage point at a time, to help lessen the financial impact on the lower-income group in Singapore," he added.

      Deloitte's regional managing partner for tax, Mr Low Hwee Chua, noted that the Government has historically adopted targeted measures to help those affected by an increase in GST rates. He cited the distribution of GST vouchers to eligible households, with lower-income families receiving more help.

      Lower-income households spend a greater proportion of their income, and GST is essentially a tax on consumption, he noted, adding: "We believe that if the GST rate were to be increased, the trend of targeted measures is likely to continue."

      PwC Singapore tax leader Chris Woo expects measures to make digital transactions like e-commerce purchases subject to GST. Personal and corporate income taxes are unlikely to go up, he added, as it would hurt Singapore's competitiveness in relation to other financial hubs.

      Dr Lily Neo, MP for Jalan Besar GRC, noted it is important to maintain a prudent fiscal stance, while still providing ample support to the elderly and less well-off. She thus hopes the Budget will offer more intangible types of help, for instance, by finding ways to connect needy families to assistance schemes run by different ministries and agencies.

      "The key is how to spend our money to get the best results possible," she said.

      Meanwhile, the Singapore People's Party has called on the Government to ensure an equitable distribution of wealth, so the most vulnerable in society will not get left behind.

      In its statement on the Budget on Monday, the party urged the Government not to raise the GST. Instead, it suggested income tax rebates for middle-income workers whose pay has not increased to help offset inflation and the rising cost of living.

      Among other suggestions, the party recommended looking at allowing young married couples to rent flats from the Housing Board before deciding whether to buy one, and allocating more resources towards mental healthcare.

      A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 15, 2018, with the headline 'Budget 2018 likely to focus on raising revenue: Experts'.
  • Queen of sgForums
    驚世駭俗醜不啦嘰 moderatress
    FireIce's Avatar
    265,286 posts since Dec '99
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