SkillsFuture Credit top topic in Pre-Budget Q&A session

The Reach Pre-Budget Facebook Q&A session yesterday was chaired by Mr Liang, chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Finance and Trade and Industry, and Ms Sun, a committee member.
The Reach Pre-Budget Facebook Q&A session yesterday was chaired by Mr Liang, chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Finance and Trade and Industry, and Ms Sun, a committee member.PHOTO: REACH

The SkillsFuture Credit scheme was the most popular topic in the Pre-Budget Facebook question-and-answer session yesterday.

People taking part in the online event suggested that there should be better communication on what the scheme offers and it how can be used to improve employability. Started this year, the scheme provides every Singaporean aged over 25 with an initial credit of $500 for skills upgrading courses.

The questions were fielded by Mr Liang Eng Hwa, chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Finance and Trade and Industry, and committee member Sun Xueling.

IMMEDIATE AND FUTURE NEEDS

This is also what we see in the Facebook feedback session - how we can gear ourselves up for the future, while taking care of the short-term pain that individuals and businesses will face.

MS SUN XUELING, Member of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Finance and Trade and Industry, on expectations of the Budget

Mr Liang said in a media interview after the session: "I'm heartened that SkillsFuture is a topic that our participants are interested in."

He added that the scheme is policy that has just been implemented and that there will be more details to come.

Some of the 20 or so participants who took part in the session also wanted to know how the government could help small businesses embrace innovation.

Mr Liang also said more could be done to ensure that companies wanting to move from "value-adding to value-creating" will have all the assistance needed to make the transition.

He expects this year's Budget to be "focused and targeted". The Finance Minister faces a "challenging situation" where social spending is growing, while the revenue collected is expected to be lower due to a slowing economy, he said.

Ms Sun said she is concerned with how the Budget can address long-term, and short-term issues.

"This is also what we see in the Facebook feedback session - how we can gear ourselves up for the future, while taking care of the short- term pain that individuals and businesses will face," she said.

Participants also raised questions about help for small businesses and support for the vulnerable groups.

The session was organised by Reach, the government feedback unit. About 2,500 people have taken part in similar Pre-Budget feedback exercises since they began on Feb 17.

Singaporeans can also submit their views and suggestions via Reach's Pre-Budget 2016 microsite. The feedback exercise will close on Feb 26, ahead of the Budget on March 24.

Chong Koh Ping

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 23, 2016, with the headline 'SkillsFuture Credit top topic in Pre-Budget Q&A session'. Print Edition | Subscribe