Budget debate

Thinking out of the box

MPs got creative in Parliament yesterday as they offered unconventional solutions to dealing with problems that ranged from small firms’ shortage of talent to fewer customers visiting heartland shops. Charissa Yong highlights five memorable suggestions by MPs on the first day of the Budget debate.

MAKE LUNCHTIME PARKING FREE


Mr Saktiandi spoke of ways to bring new life to neighbourhood centres. PHOTO: ZAOBAO

Parking charges in the heartland could be lowered or even made free, to encourage more people to visit mom-and-pop shops there.

This could be done during lunch hours on weekdays, especially in less populous neighbourhoods, said Mr Saktiandi Supaat (Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC).

He urged the Government to do more to support small entrepreneurs and bring new life to neighbourhood centres.

The Housing Board could also actively manage the mix of tenants in neighbourhood centres to attract more customers, he added.


MAKE SILVER SUPPORT PAYOUTS MONTHLY


Mr Yam said monthly payouts would help the elderly poor with daily expenses. PHOTO: ST FILE
 

Silver Support payouts for the elderly poor should be given every month instead of every three months, said Mr Alex Yam (Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC).

The scheme gives quarterly payouts of between $300 and $750 to the bottom 30 per cent of those aged 65 and older.

But a monthly payout would be more beneficial, as these seniors need help with their daily living expenses, Mr Yam said.

This was the feedback of participants at a PAP Seniors Group dialogue last week, he added.


LOCATE UNITED NATIONS OFFICES HERE


Mr Lim said the UN should be wooed to set up its regional headquarters here. PHOTO: ST FILE

Singapore could lobby the United Nations (UN) to establish a stronger presence in Asia and set up its regional headquarters here, said Dr Lim Wee Kiak (Sembawang GRC).

Asia is one of the biggest markets for global trade and an engine of growth for the world economy, he said as he argued for a stronger UN presence in the region.

Also, if the UN bases its regional headquarters here, it would go a long way in helping Singapore stay relevant to the world, he added.


ENCOURAGE FORMER PRISON INMATES TO BE ENTREPRENEURS


Mr Perera said ex-inmates could be tapped to unlock home-grown talent. PHOTO: ST FILE

Singapore's next big entrepreneur could well be a former prison inmate, said Non-Constituency MP Leon Perera.

He wants the Government to work with ex-inmates to help make their business dreams come true.

People with disabilities could also get more educational support from the Government to develop their talents, he added.

"We must do more to unlock these sources of talent, not just because it is the right thing to do morally, but also economically," he said.


CO-FUND SCHOLARSHIPS FOR SMEs


Dr Teo spoke of helping SMEs with study schemes and loyalty bonuses. PHOTO: ST FILE

The Government could co-fund scholarships offered by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), said Dr Teo Ho Pin (Bukit Panjang).

It could also chip in to help small companies pay their long-serving workers loyalty bonuses.

Dr Teo made the suggestions as he urged the Government to help SMEs attract and retain talent, as they find it very hard to do so.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 05, 2016, with the headline 'Thinking out of the box'. Print Edition | Subscribe