Economic growth, families to be top priorities for Budget 2017

These two areas drew most suggestions in feedback Govt received on Budget 2017

People walking along the Marina Bay Waterfront Promenade.
People walking along the Marina Bay Waterfront Promenade.PHOTO: ST FILE

Economic growth and support for families will take top priority in the upcoming Budget, Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong said yesterday.

These were the two areas of national interest that drew the most suggestions, out of the more than 7,500 items of feedback the Government received in recent weeks.

"These are not surprising because these are issues that are at the top of people's minds now," Mr Wong told the media, after joining 100 People's Association grassroots volunteers and community partners at a pre-Budget talk in Ang Mo Kio.

He said the Government made an "extra effort" to solicit feedback this year, by engaging more trade associations and chambers and grassroots and community leaders.

"We take this very seriously because the Budget should not just be an exercise of Government spending," Mr Wong said. "It should be a collective process of all of us coming together to decide on our national priorities and how we want to allocate our resources."

He said the Budget on Feb 20 will build on the industry transformation maps introduced last year, and policymakers will continue to look at ways to help displaced and vulnerable people who are out of work.

"We will continue the momentum to transform our economy and make sure that we continue to have a strong, vibrant economy to create jobs for Singaporeans."

He also pointed out that although this year is one of "wider uncertainty", Singapore has been and will continue growing.

"This year we are forecasting growth at 1 to 3 per cent. And if you see it in perspective, in this new phase of development, we are looking structurally at a growth rate of 2 to 3 per cent under normal circumstances, which would be already relatively good compared to most advanced economies," Mr Wong said.

In recent weeks, various bodies - from tax consultants to the Singapore Contractors Association - have published Budget wish lists, policy recommendations and appeals for help. The Singapore Business Federation called on the Government to make Singapore a more conducive place to nurture globally competitive companies by setting up a private bourse to make it easier for players to raise capital.

Mr Wong said: "We want Singapore to continue to be a centre for innovation. If we do that, we can continue to be a vibrant city and attractive city, where companies, local or foreign, will want to be based in Singapore and use Singapore as a location for which they can do innovative projects."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 14, 2017, with the headline 'Economic growth, families to be top priorities'. Print Edition | Subscribe