As the economy recovers from the pandemic, this year’s Budget seeks to position Singapore for the long term and chart a new course forward.
Lim Yan Liang, The Straits Times' assistant political editor, discussed how Budget 2022 will transform the economy and impact job prospects with Associate Professor Terence Ho from the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.
How will businesses be affected?
Sustainability, Prof Ho noted, will give Singapore a "key competitive edge" as the world races to tackle the climate crisis. In line with the new target of net-zero emissions by 2050, the carbon tax rate will go up to between $50 and $80 per tonne of emissions by 2030 which is a sharp hike from the current $5. Businesses will have to tap on alternative energy sources and adapt their business practices as Singapore commits to the green transition.
Additionally, $600 million has been set aside for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to help them cut costs and boost productivity. While the government looks to grow global enterprises that can shine on the international stage, the important supporting base of local SMEs will also be strengthened.
What’s in it for workers?
To ensure that local talent stays competitive, Budget 2022 is also focused on reskilling workers via grants and schemes.
One new initiative is the SkillsFuture Career Transition Programme, which will allow workers who have been retrenched to acquire industry-relevant skills. This will enable them to enter a new sector or re-join the same sector with new skills.
For lower-wage workers who may not have time to spare for reskilling, a progressive wage model aims to incentivise them to train. The structured skills and career progression pathways will help them climb the salary ladder.
Positioning ourselves for the future
The various moves and measures will position Singapore well for the future “as we need to earn a living in this volatile and dynamic world”, said Prof Ho.
Here are some ebooks that will help you better understand the key Budget themes and their implications:
1. Introduction to Sustainability (2016)
By Robert Brinkmann
E-book available at: https://nlb.overdrive.com/media/2637298
This book reviews major themes in the cutting-edge field of sustainability through insightful case studies. It not only explores the complex field of sustainability through an interdisciplinary lens, but also encourages readers to take action to make the world a better place.
2. Recalculating (2021)
By Lindsey Pollak
E-book available at: https://nlb.overdrive.com/media/5558001
In a post-COVID world fraught with uncertainty, workplace expert Linsey Pollak offers practical advice – from using virtual communication to remotely network to maintaining self-care and mental health – that helps you navigate new norms and challenges to forge a successful career.
3. Hire Purpose (2020)
By Deanna Mulligan
E-book available at: https://nlb.overdrive.com/media/5435182
The author, a former president and chief executive of a Fortune 300 company, taps her own experiences and a wealth of other examples to illustrate how business leaders can embrace technological disruption and transformation. By providing a framework for concrete action, the book highlights the importance of reskilling and retraining in gearing up for the workplace of the future.
4. Competitive SME (2013)
By David James Hood
E-book available at: https://nlb.overdrive.com/media/1221281
Packed with simple yet effective tools, Competitive SME is a practical handbook for SME owners and managers keen to outperform their competitors by seizing competitive and marketing opportunities.
5. Beginners (2021)
By Tom Vanderbilt
E-book available at: https://nlb.overdrive.com/media/5646201
Beginners is bestselling author Tom Vanderbilt’s ode to the joy of learning at any age. Motivated by his young daughter, he devotes a year to picking up various new skills, from singing to surfing to juggling. Through his experiences and insights gleaned from research and experts, he makes a convincing – and inspiring – case for adults to rediscover the magic of learning something new.
6. The Efficiency Trap (2013)
By Steve Hallett
E-book available at: https://nlb.overdrive.com/media/1233793
In this sobering appraisal of conventional thinking, environmentalist Steve Hallett argues that greater efficiency leads to higher consumption and faster depletion of resources. Instead, he advocates recognising the limits to growth and embracing sustainability on all fronts, so that ecosystems and human social systems alike can be more resilient.
7. Renewable Energy (2020)
By Nick Jelley
E-book available at: https://nlb.overdrive.com/media/5309050
In this pocket-sized handbook, Nick Jelley, an Emeritus Professor of physics, provides a simple yet informative introduction to renewable energy. Besides exploring new technologies that could allow clean energy to power the world without harming the environment, he also outlines the key challenges of replacing fossil fuels with renewable supplies.
8. Embracing Ambiguity (2021)
By Michael Edmondson
E-book available at: https://nlb.overdrive.com/media/7053116
Embracing Ambiguity offers a timely self-directed training guide designed to enhance the essential skills employees need to navigate ambiguity in today’s fast-evolving workplace.
How you can tackle climate change in your backyard
In the hustle and bustle of everyday Singapore, some will complain about the increasingly hotter days not knowing that the impacts are much direr as compared to the past. As everyone goes about their lives, the sea level is slowly rising while flash floods are becoming commonplace, among others.
Through a camera lens, The Straits Times’ photojournalists Mark Cheong and Lim Yaohui have catalogued these impacts in Singapore and around the world. Together with climate change editor David Fogarty, they discuss how Singapore is handling this growing climate crisis.
The marks of climate change
As on-the-go photojournalists, Mark and Yaohui are familiar with the worsening environmental conditions in Singapore. They have captured the varied ways Singaporeans are dealing with the beating sun and unrelenting rains – from arming themselves with a fan and umbrella to waddling in knee-high floods. However, people are not the only ones affected.
Singapore’s environment, whether man-made or natural, is struggling as well. During rainy days, its canals and drains often become overfilled. Sunny days do not fare any better. Last year, Singapore experienced the second driest February which affects the local ponds and flora.
Of course, Singapore is not the only country facing such challenges. In Cape Town, South Africa, Yaohui experienced a historic drought in the country. Signs are seen everywhere urging conservation of water. With every citizen being limited to 50 litres per day, endless queues withstood the heat to collect extra water.
Meanwhile, Mark saw how the freezing Arctic was not spared either. Melting permafrost made the ground unsuitable for buildings and landslides were more frequent. Polar bears progressively move inland, into human areas.
Turning the tides
There are ways to combat them. A myriad of climate solutions has since been created, some of which can be seen in Singapore.
In 2021, Singapore unveiled one of the largest inland floating solar farms at Tengah Reservoir. Covering over 45 hectares, the farm can generate enough power for 16,000 flats while cutting down carbon emissions. Infrastructure, like caissons used in land reclamation and drainage systems, is built with increased sea levels and rainfall in mind.
In terms of nature-enhancing solutions, polytechnic students and other volunteers sought to plant more mangroves, which are great absorbers of carbon dioxide. Seawalls and geobags are used to help with sand erosion from higher tides.
Although these are national efforts, we, as individuals, can also aid in the fight. Mark said: “Hopefully, in these images, you can see the beauty of Singapore and what we already have. But, you also see the impact of climate change on us… I really don’t think we should take it for granted. What I can say is, do what you can and what is affordable and feasible but, at least, do something.”
His view is echoed by Yaohui, who said: "Even though we aren’t big companies, who can build solar farms and all the energy-saving features that you do in offices, we can take little steps, like saving water, teaching our kids, and doing some gardening at home."
Learn about Climate change with these insightful reads:
9. Eating Chilli Crab in the Anthropocene: Environmental Perspectives on Life in Singapore (2020)
By Matthew Schneider-Mayerson & Michele Chong
E-book available at: https://nlb.overdrive.com/media/5614683
Recognising how environmental issues in Singapore are much more intricate and problematic than what one might think, this anthology of stories offers a fresh perspective of life in Singapore from the Anthropocene – the epoch of humans.
10. Climate change and the Bay of Bengal: Evolving Geographies of Fear and Hope (2017)
By Sanjay Chaturvedi & Vijay Sakhuja
E-book available at: https://nlb.overdrive.com/media/231F6CF2-D35C-41EE-A26E-D10BF4AD0C4A
In a region with a long-standing history of vulnerabilities due to climate change, the Bay of Bengal is prone to natural disasters such as tsunamis, cyclones, storm surges. This book examines the geopolitics of fear and argues how joint action is necessary for an effective response to climate change.
11. Palm Trees at the North Pole (2021)
By Marc ter Horst & Wendy Panders
E-book available at: https://nlb.overdrive.com/media/6250395
Climate change is the most pressing issue confronting the world today, and educating our kids about the crisis will prepare them to live more sustainable lives and hopefully mitigate the impact. Through cute illustrations, this book presents complex facts and information in a digestible manner so children aged eight to 12 can aspire to take up the mantle of climate change leadership.
12. The Story of More (2021)
By Hope Jahren
E-book available at: https://nlb.overdrive.com/media/6055144
Written by acclaimed geochemist and geobiologist Hope Jahren, this book for young adults is adapted from her original work that has been described as an essential primer on climate change. Along with explanations of the current and projected consequences of global warming like rising sea levels, she also spells out the actions we can take to create a more sustainable future.
13. Climate Change (2020)
By Joshua Sneideman & Erin Twamley
E-book available at: https://nlb.overdrive.com/media/5391572
There’s no better way to learn than to experience something first-hand. Climate Change is packed with hands-on and critical-thinking exercises for students to understand the science behind climate change and its impacts. Through this revised edition, empower your mini-scientists to be proactive learners.
14. Miseducation (2021)
By Katie Worth
Audiobook available at: https://nlb.overdrive.com/media/6140495
Investigative journalist Katie Worth dives into the state of climate education in the United States and discovers that many American children have been or are being misinformed about the crisis. Through her extensive research and travels to various communities in the country, she seeks to find out who has been influencing what children learn, why, and how successful they have been.
15. Regeneration (2021)
By Paul Hawken
E-book available at: https://nlb.overdrive.com/media/6161217
Environmentalist Paul Hawken outlines how we can end the climate crisis in a single generation. Find out how an inclusive movement can rally people worldwide to successfully fight climate change. Through concrete climate initiatives, Hawken believes this seemingly impossible battle can be won.
16. The Wild World Handbook (2021)
By Andrea Debbink & Asia Orlando
E-book available at: https://nlb.overdrive.com/media/5640469
One is never too young to start taking care of Mother Earth. With this illustrated guide, children can explore the unique parts of our planet and be inspired by the stories of climate activists. It also provides fun and practical activities to cement their learning.
17. The Chickpea Revolution Cookbook (2019)
By Heather Lawless & Jen Mulqueen
E-book available at: https://nlb.overdrive.com/media/3764210
One way to lower your carbon footprint is to eat less meat. The Chickpea Revolution Cookbook is chock-full of nutritious plant-based recipes that feature sustainable foods like chickpeas, which are resilient to changing climate conditions. From socca bread to chocolate chickpea brownies, there are many fascinating dishes to try – and help save the earth while you are at it.
18. How to Garden the Low-carbon Way (2021)
By Sally Nex
E-book available at: https://nlb.overdrive.com/media/5957162
The gardening trend has bloomed during the COVID-19 pandemic as people seek ways to weed out their worries. This guide dishes out science-backed advice that not only helps you to grow a green thumb but also to cultivate a climate-friendly garden that doubles as a carbon-absorbing sink.