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Budget 2016

Mildred Tan on Budget 2016: Into the next lap, confidently

Budget 2016 is a lifeline for Singapore businesses- empathetic and pragmatic in tone, without being excessive or overly reactive to the pressures of a slowing economy.

For Singapore's pursuit of economic transformation to stay the course, a good balance of near-term fixes with a view of setting up Singapore for the long term is needed to ensure businesses, particularly the small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and the Singapore workforce and population make the economic transition.

Businesses see a mix of measures that help them ease business costs including a new working capital loan scheme to support viable SMEs that are cash-strapped, an enhanced corporate income tax rebate and extended Special Employment Credit - all of which are timely aids indeed.

The three-pronged Industry Transformation Programme has initiatives that support and accelerate transformation through innovation and technology adoption. Further, the newly proposed Business Grants Portal seeks to make it easier for companies to access the right grant going forward.

Budget 2016 recognises the importance of investing in people. Individuals are again encouraged to skill, reskill, and upskill so as to stay relevant in the future economy. Other measures from KidSTART to the Silver Support Scheme to the Enhanced Workfare for low-wage workers and persons with disabilities show that there is commitment to ensure that no one is left behind.

Beyond these, one aspect that resonates most with me is the move to build a more caring and giving society, and encouraging corporates to recognise the massive influence they have by enabling them to join in the fold of doing good.

It is a refreshing perspective that reflects the growing appreciation for the social contract between businesses and the society.

It is also an opportunity for Singaporeans and corporates to embrace being an organisation of purpose and good, and paying it forward for a better society for themselves and the next generation.

Building a caring and resilient society and city of good is the collective responsibility; as is a strong and resilient economy. This Budget should take us confidently on our journey to the next 50 years.

• Mildred Tan is managing director at Ernst & Young Advisory. The views reflected in this article are of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the global EY organisation or its member firms.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 26, 2016, with the headline 'Into the next lap, confidently'. Print Edition | Subscribe