If the Finance Minister was your genie in a bottle and you rubbed him the right way, what would you wish for as a corporate drone in Singapore this Budget? Tax rebates? HDB grants? More help for lower-income group? Here’s a wishlist of things we think Singaporeans are entitled to, nay, deserve, this budget.
1. GST Rebates
Because who doesn’t like free cash from the Government. While pumping money into building infrastructure for the benefit of all Singaporeans is fine and dandy, nothing beats seeing that cold hard cash after a hard day of… buying stuff. Oh $400 from an unknown source just mysteriously appeared in my bank account? What a pleasant surprise!
2. More SkillsFuture Credits
Because you’re probably going to outlive your job. Take a look around, industries that were once thriving during our parents’ time are now considered sunset industries. If we don’t continue learning, training, upgrading, getting a new skill and finding new ways to do things, we’re going to be as obsolete as a fax machine in 2050, and we don’t want that do we?
3. Incentivise Companies to hire Singaporeans
Because “Foreigners are taking our jobs”. Weed out the bad eggs from the good eggs. Reward and help the good companies with a healthy Singaporean Core continue to hire Singaporeans to build their businesses through grants and training of their workers.
Identify companies/industries with a weak Singaporean Core and tighten enforcement on them. Punish them by not approving their Employment Passes or by imposing fines on them. Sure, there might not be enough local workers with the right skills for ALL positions, this is when the company takes the initiative to work with authorities on a plan to equip local workers with the skillsets needed for those positions.
4. Productivity Incentive Schemes
Because with all that is being said, if we want to limit the number of foreigners coming in, we’re essentially limiting our workforce and our “output”. So in theory, our economy will stop growing or be stagnant. If we want progress, we’ll still have to continue increasing our output and to do that, we’ll have to find different ways for our people to be more productive.
If fact, maybe the government should take the lead in productivity! They can start with something simple, like how instead of getting many security guards to patrol their buildings, they can install more cameras and utilise drones for surveillance. Have you been to The Treasury building where the Ministry of Finance is located? The security guard’s counter is like a kitchen island, situated right smack in the middle of the first floor of the building – a floor with different entry points. How is the guard supposed to keep an eye on people entering and exiting the building alone?
Please provide more grants to help Small and Medium Enterprises, and set benchmarks for them to follow and of course, ensure that if they do benefit from increased productivity, that they share those gains with their workers. Because workers like you and me have families to care for.
5. More Help for Older and Retiring Workers
Because one day we’ll all grow old (except Teo Ser Luck because that man has the face of a baby’s) and some of us may still want to work, while those who don’t, still need to retire comfortably. Increase contribution rates for those above 55 and top-up Medisave to help with retirement adequacy. Do away with the retirement age already! Age is just a number. By the way, doing away with the retirement age does not mean asking you to “work forever”, if you have enough savings you can retire at 30, no one will care. Or at least do away with a single retirement age and come up with a few across industries.
So there. That’s what we’re hoping to see when the Budget is announced. In fact we’re a little late in putting this out, organisations like the National Trades Union Congress have already, in true “kiasu” Singaporean fashion, published their recommendations to the Ministry of Finance in a bid to “chope” the budget for their areas of interest.
Article contributed by reader Jai Ho