Budget 2016

Liang Eng Hwa on Budget 2016: Measures must be executed well

Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat emphasised at length the spirit of partnership in our continued effort to tackle the various economic and social challenges. Everyone will have a role and that is how we can achieve better and more sustainable outcomes.

In this regard, the Budget achieved the right balance between short-term support for companies and workers while pressing on with economic restructuring needed for the longer term.

The landscape ahead in the next few years, with technology disruption, with firms restructuring from traditional industries to more high-tech ones, may see higher structural unemployment in the years to come.

Certain skill sets may no longer be relevant, certain sectors or industries may not be viable, and people will have to be redeployed elsewhere, so the Adapt and Grow initiative is important at this juncture to help people grow their skills.

On the social front, the focus is on executing and implementing our recently introduced policies and schemes well.

Clearly, this year's Budget priorities would include a thoughtful and diligent roll-out of the new schemes and ensuring that they achieve the policy intent.

Given the global nature of the labour market, left on its own, we are unlikely to see a significant improvement in the income gap. Hence the need for direct intervention via the Workfare Income Supplement scheme to lift the income of the low-wage workers.

It is a very grounded Budget; it is all about sticking to the game plan and carrying out what we set out to do. A few key thrusts have already been put in place - we need to make sure we execute them well, whether it is SkillsFuture or the Industry Transformation Programme, or other measures.

Notwithstanding the fact that this is an expansionary Budget, I am on the whole pleased with the fiscal prudence shown, given the uncertain economic outlook and that overall, government expenditure is projected to increase further in the years to come.

• Liang Eng Hwa is a Holland-Bukit Timah GRC MP and chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Finance and Trade and Industry.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 26, 2016, with the headline 'Measures must be executed well'. Print Edition | Subscribe