Singapore Budget 2014: Thumbs-up for pioneer generation, but leg-up needed for productivity

The Pioneer Generation Package, which was a highlight of the Budget speech on Feb 21, remained a hot topic on the first day of the Budget debate - both in and outside Parliament - on Monday. -- FILE PHOTO: THE BUSINESS TIMES
The Pioneer Generation Package, which was a highlight of the Budget speech on Feb 21, remained a hot topic on the first day of the Budget debate - both in and outside Parliament - on Monday. -- FILE PHOTO: THE BUSINESS TIMES

Budget Talk: What are MPs and observers saying about the Budget debate outside Parliament? We sum up some of the topics being discussed on social media.

The Pioneer Generation Package, which was a highlight of the Budget speech on Feb 21, remained a hot topic on the first day of the Budget debate - both in and outside Parliament - on Monday.

Most expressed support, including MP Foo Mee Har (West Coast GRC), who blogged about the package of health-care benefits for Singaporeans aged 65 and older. She said in a Facebook post: "I applaud the Government for the Pioneer Generation Package, both in terms of how it provides much needed health-care benefits to a special generation of 450,000 people, for the rest of their lives, as well as how the package was delivered: As a well-deserved tribute to our seniors' contributions to Singapore!"

Ms Foo, who spoke in Parliament earlier on Monday, had suggested that the Government issue an official Pioneer Generation card to identify these special individuals. In addition, she urged the wider community, especially businesses, to offer these older Singaporeans special discounts, priority queues and privilege programmes as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility efforts.

While MP Janil Puthucheary (Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC) also spoke about taking good care of older Singaporeans in Parliament, the well-being of the young was also high on his agenda, he revealed in a Facebook post.

"Over the next two weeks we will debate the ideas behind the Budget and then move to the Committee of Supply debate where specific issues will be brought up under each ministry," he wrote. "One of the things I will bring up is the provision for more childcare and kindergarten spaces in Punggol," added the MP, who oversees Punggol West, a young housing estate with high demand for childcare services.

Workers' Party Non-Constituency Member of Parliament Gerald Giam, who called on the Government to expedite the roll-out of the Pioneer Generation Package in his speech in Parliament on Monday, flagged another concern: weak productivity growth.

He highlighted this in a Facebook post: "In 2011, labour productivity growth was 2 per cent over the year before. In 2012, it dropped by 2 per cent.

"Last year, it was flat - there was no overall growth from the year before... At this rate, is the Government going to be able to meet the targeted 30 per cent cumulative productivity growth by 2020?"