Supporting firms, enabling workforce transformation among EY's Budget wish list

EY proposed a raft of measures to help companies hit by Covid-19 as well as support individuals. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Measures meant to cushion the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in the short term, while also building longer-term sustainability and supporting workforce transformation, are in Ernst & Young Solutions' (EY) wish list for Budget 2022, which will be delivered on Feb 18.

Ms Soh Pui Ming, EY Singapore's head of tax, said: "Our proposals for Budget 2022, while continuing to target the immediate challenges, also examine the longer-term considerations to build a sustainable Singapore for future generations."

EY proposed a raft of measures to help companies hit by Covid-19, such as enhancing loss carry-back rules to enable struggling firms to get cash flow relief.

Tax incentives can also be provided, for instance, to those providing cryptocurrency-related services so as to keep such activities relevant and attractive, it said.

For individuals, EY suggested extending reliefs to the spouses of working mothers as well.

There should also be special tax deduction for hiring specialised caregivers in order to reduce the burden on families caring for elderly folk or those with special needs, EY said.

Also, there could be tax relief for medical-related insurance policies.

"It is now more common for individuals to obtain private health insurance coverage for more comprehensive cover in any unexpected events. Allowing relief on the premium (up to a cap) would be beneficial to the man in the street," said EY partner Panneer Selvam.

This tax relief can also be provided for medical costs incurred by health screening, he added.

Aside from such support, Singapore also has to focus on longer-term workforce transformation, EY said.

Mr Samir Bedi, partner for people advisory services at EY, suggested a national skills index so people can take stock of the skills they have and identify suitable training to get the ones they need.

Sustainability will also be a major concern going forward, especially as the amount of packaging waste increased over the pandemic as people opted for deliveries, takeaway food and disposable utensils for hygiene purposes, EY partners said.

Mr Simon Yeo, EY Asean climate change and sustainability services leader, added: "The Government can consider setting aside an amount over the next three years to co-fund pilot programmes around packaging waste reduction, targeting the food and beverage and e-commerce sectors."

Such programmes can focus on reducing packaging, collecting packaging for reuse or recycling, or using more recyclable materials, he added.

In terms of achieving net-zero ambitions, more creative and effective use of carbon schemes is needed, said Mr Yeo.

The Government may consider allocating $10 million to $20 million over the next three years for co-funding research and setting standards in this area, he suggested.

More can also be done to encourage the early adoption of electric vehicles, such as allowing expenses incurred on such vehicles by firms to be fully tax deductible, said EY partner Toh Shu Hui.

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