Budget 2013 focuses on strategies to achieve quality growth and build an inclusive society
Quality growth and an inclusive society - these are the two main goals of this year's Budget which Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam announced in Parliament on Monday afternoon.
He said that Singapore must make every effort to achieve quality growth, which is achieved mainly through innovation and higher productivity, and benefits all Singaporeans, including children, working families, the elderly and the disabled.
The Government's strategies for achieving such growth and an inclusive society are in fact inextricably tied together, he said.
"Raising productivity is not just our most important economic priority, but enables us to build a better society," he noted. "Higher productivity is the only sustainable way to raise incomes for ordinary Singaporeans, and provide jobs that give people a sense of responsibility and empowerment." The Government is thus intensifying its efforts at economic restructuring and skills upgrading.
To sustain social mobility, the Government plans to help children from poorer or less stable families to develop confidence and catch up when they fall behind.
A more progressive fiscal system will be introduced, that will tilt taxes and benefits in favour of lower- and middle-income groups. Enhancements will be made to the Workfare Income Supplement scheme, and a new Wage Credit Scheme will be introduced, to help companies raise their employees' wages.
Taking all the Budget measures together, a young low-income couple with two children can expect to receive more than $600,000 over their lifetime, which is much more than the Government used to provide in the past, Mr Tharman said.
He also acknowledged that older Singaporeans will not benefit as much as younger ones from the enhancements made to existing schemes, but that the Government is reviewing the system of healthcare financing and other schemes to help them.
For more news and analysis on Singapore Budget 2013, click here for ST's Big Story coverage.