ST Explainers: Budget 2016; tapping smartphones for rides; Obama goes to Cuba

PM Lee and President Obama at Sunnylands in February. PM Lee was in Washington this week for a nuclear security summit. The front pages of newspapers carrying former Cuban leader Fidel Castro's article on Mr Obama's visit, published on Monday. Syrian
Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat’s maiden Budget is aimed at supporting local businesses as well as Singaporeans who have to weather an economic slowdown. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI
Commuters can now tap their compatible smartphones at card readers to pay for bus and train rides.
Commuters can now tap their compatible smartphones at card readers to pay for bus and train rides.ST PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI
PM Lee and President Obama at Sunnylands in February. PM Lee was in Washington this week for a nuclear security summit. The front pages of newspapers carrying former Cuban leader Fidel Castro's article on Mr Obama's visit, published on Monday. Syrian
PM Lee and President Obama at Sunnylands in February. PM Lee was in Washington this week for a nuclear security summit. PHOTO: REUTERS
PM Lee and President Obama at Sunnylands in February. PM Lee was in Washington this week for a nuclear security summit. The front pages of newspapers carrying former Cuban leader Fidel Castro's article on Mr Obama's visit, published on Monday. Syrian
The front pages of newspapers carrying former Cuban leader Fidel Castro's article on Mr Obama's visit, published on Monday. PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY
PM Lee and President Obama at Sunnylands in February. PM Lee was in Washington this week for a nuclear security summit. The front pages of newspapers carrying former Cuban leader Fidel Castro's article on Mr Obama's visit, published on Monday. Syrian
Syrian soldiers inside Palmyra, Syria, on Tuesday after the Syrian army regained control of the historical city from ISIS. PHOTO: REUTERS PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

This is a fortnightly round-up of FAQs, pegged on news events, published on The Straits Times' website. Go to http://str.sg/Z9Zr for more.

Singapore's economy was a big deal in the news, with Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat delivering his maiden Budget in Parliament on March 24. The Straits Times' coverage spanned a live blog with commentary in real time by deputy editor Ignatius Low and opinion editor Chua Mui Hoong, as well as a Budget microsite and explainers online.

Tech-savvy Singaporeans may soon want to tap into another way of paying for their bus and train rides - using their smartphones.

Beyond Singapore, US President Barack Obama's historic visit to Cuba, an international nuclear summit attended by more than 50 leaders, and the Syrian government's recapturing of the ancient city of Palmyra offered more fodder for digital-only content on www.straitstimes.com


Important things to know about Budget 2016

The business-minded Singapore Budget was aimed at supporting local businesses as well as Singaporeans who have to weather an economic slowdown. You do not have to plough through stacks of information to get to the important bits. We have a handy guide to 11 things you need to know about the Budget announcements. http://str.sg/ZtRK


If you want to find out more, here are six schemes to help workers adapt, http://str.sg/ZtD3, and six things the Government is planning to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). http://str.sg/ZtRr


There are also big plans afoot to transform Singapore Inc, from encouraging automation to promoting start-ups. Here are 10 schemes introduced during the speech. http://str.sg/ZtD4


SIMply high-tech way to pay fares, if you have the right gear

It was announced on Wednesday that passengers can now pay for their bus and train rides by tapping their compatible smartphones. But before you rush out to try this newfangled method, you may want to read tech editor Irene Tham's list of caveats. She highlights five things to consider before you upgrade your SIM to support mobile payments with Near Field Communications (NFC). http://str.sg/ZvTf


Decades of secret US-Cuba talks before Obama's visit

President Barack Obama was the first US president in 88 years to visit Cuba. But since bilateral ties were frozen in the wake of Fidel Castro's ascent to power in 1959, there have been discreet attempts on the part of some US presidents at rapprochement with the world's last socialist stronghold. Here is a quick rundown of strategies employed by various American leaders in the past 50 years. http://str.sg/ZtMW


PM Lee attends nuclear security summit in Washington

President Barack Obama also hosted an international summit in Washington on Thursday, attended by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, where nuclear security was the focus. The summit was first convened by Mr Obama in 2010 and then in 2012 and 2014. PM Lee has attended all four summits. Here is an explainer on why the summits are important in promoting nuclear security worldwide. http://str.sg/ZvGF


Recapture of Palmyra by Syrian forces good news for heritage

There was good news for world heritage recently when Syrian government forces recaptured the ancient city of Palmyra from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant group, which seized control of the site last May. Here are five things to know about the Unesco World Heritage site that dates back to the 19th century BC. http://str.sg/ZvZZ

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 02, 2016, with the headline 'ST Explainers: Budget 2016; tapping smartphones for rides; Obama goes to Cuba'. Print Edition | Subscribe