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Singapore’s Minister for Finance, Heng Swee Keat, is delivering the Budget speech for the Financial Year 2017 in Parliament. Scroll down for live updates on HR and manpower issues arising from the speech.
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FY2016 was considered an expansionary budget – this will be the case for FY2017 budget as well. Budget surplus of 0.4% of GDP is expected. This budget position is considered prudent in supporting households and business during times of restructuring.
- Budget 2017 outlines how we can thrive in a rapidly changing environment. It is essential to develop greater resilience in the midst of economic shifts.
- Measures have been provided for sectors which are witnessing the most shifts. Capabilities in firms and workers aimed to help them operate better internationally as well as use digital skills.
- Reaffirm our commitment to keeping Singapore a vibrant living city with quality environment. Support provided to lower income families.
- Steps to building in inclusive society for those with disabilities or mental health conditions. Strengthen the partnerships between community and government organisations.
Supporting the community
- National Council for Social Services will make efforts to encourage persons with disabilities into the workplace.
- Self help groups have been working with needy families – additional $6 million grant given to these groups over the next two years.
- Sports – Sports Care programme will be expanded to encourage disadvantaged students to participate in sports activities. $50 million will be provided to match sports donations dollar for dollar.
How to assist households with expenses
- GST voucher for eligible households will be increased to $150 to offset water price rise.
- Income tax rebate of 20% of tax payable (capped at $500) provided to taxpayers. The rebate will cost the government $385 million.
We are building an inclusive and caring society – the government will continue to catalyse community efforts, says the Finance Minister. With the population ageing, smaller families, and more complex social needs, he urges more people to help out, taking example of human connection in raising donation, taking care of family members, etc.
Announcements for families – housing, education
- Increased subsidies for those who buy their first HDB from the re-sale market.
- A couple can now receive up to S$110,000 grant when buying their first flat.
- Further measures will be announced for young families.
- Improved accessibility of pre-schools.
Our regulatory agencies must balance the need for innovation with the ability to manage risks – while making Singapore more conducive for startups, says the Minister. He cites the example of LTA developing self-driving vehicles.
Regulatory agencies will further explore risk assessment for new products – see how to make them more swift. He cites the example of Health and Sciences Authority in setting the example for evaluating new medical devices, with a view to making Singapore a preferred location to launch new devices.
The national research fund will be topped up by $5million while the national productivity fund will be topped by $1billion.
In last year’s budget, Minister Heng announced the Industry Transformation Maps – these will be developed for 23 sectors covering about 80% of the national economy. Six have been launched so far, and the remaining 17 are expected to be announced in FY2017.
Firms in sectors facing a structural shift will have to adapt to the shifts in the economy, and the government will help workers to adapt to these shifts, says Minister Heng. this will be done in ways such as increasing support for workers, introducing a work trial programme where industry partners can send workers to training, and more.
S$26 million will be committed to the Lifelong Development Fund and the SkillsFuture fund. The Wage Credit Scheme will be continued in order to help firms.
S$600 million will be allocated to businesses, of which 70% will be invested in supporting SMEs.
Further, SME working capital loan will be available for the next two years.
Special employment credit will provide support for employers to 2019. MOM will raise re-employment age from 65-67 with effect from July 2017
Additional near-term support measures will give business support of over 1.5 billion in the coming years.
How will Singapore increase growth in medium to long term? By building the future economy. CFE has laid out 7 mutually reinforcing strategies to tackle challenges ahead.
It is important to keep Singapore relevant even as the world changes, says Minister Heng. For enterprises to survive and grow, they need to develop capabilities – such as being able to use digital tech, embrace innovation and skill up.
First way to strengthen our enterprises is to help them adopt digital practices through the SME go-digital programme, which has three components to it. SMEs will get step-by-step advice on the tech to use at each stage of growth. SMEs that are ready to pilot tech systems will receive funding support. Further, capabilities in data and cyber security will be strengthened.
A water conservation tax will be imposed on potable water – 10% tariff on Newater starting from July 2017. Various water and emission related measures have been announced. However, support will be provided to households to tide over the increased rates.
Lead photo / Live video feed