Feedback on Budget 2012 Largely Positive

SINGAPORE: The feedback on Singapore’s Budget 2012 has been largely positive based on early input received by the government’s portal, REACH.

Its chairman, Dr Amy Khor, told Channel NewsAsia on the sidelines of a community event on Sunday morning that many welcomed the measures to help the needy and to enable companies to employ more Singaporeans.

Residents of Hong Kah North marked Total Defence Day as part of efforts to build a more cohesive society.

Mayor of South West District Dr Khor used the occasion to remind them of the need to build a stronger and more inclusive Singapore as outlined in the Budget Statement unveiled by Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam on February 17

She said it will help manage key challenges like slower economic growth, income inequality and the ageing population.

Dr Khor said: “It is also a budget with a heart because it has got targeted schemes to help the elderly, low income and disabled, as well as local companies to help them restructure. It has got stepped-up efforts to give social support assurance to the vulnerable groups, like the elderly, the low income and the disabled. This budget will give them a leg up to help them cope with the challenges and pressures ahead, as well as to help them to benefit and participate in the growth of Singapore.

She said the most-hotly debated issue was the package of social assistance initiatives.

About 40 per cent of contributors discussed the issue, especially on the new GST Voucher to help the needy offset their Goods and Services Tax, as well as the higher Central Provident Fund contribution rate for older workers.
Dr Khor said some suggested that the higher CPF contribution rate be extended to those who are older than 65.

This was followed by measures to help in the restructuring of the economy with about 30 per cent of contributors discussing the issue.

Dr Khor said: “Some of the concerns that they have raised are with regards to worries about higher business such as possible higher business costs and access to labour because of the current tight labour condition. While they welcome the reduction in foreign dependency ratio, the worry is whether the SMEs are able to get the manpower they need.”

Singaporeans can continue to share their views with REACH through a Facebook chat on February 26 from 7.30pm to 9pm and a roving exhibition at the Raffles Place lawn on February 23 and 24.

– CNA/fa

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