From The Backbench

Parliament: Debate on ministries’ budgets

MS SYLVIA LIM
MS SYLVIA LIM
MR LOUIS NG
MR LOUIS NG
MR ANG HIN KEE
MR ANG HIN KEE
MS RAHAYU MAHZAM
MS RAHAYU MAHZAM

MS SYLVIA LIM (Aljunied GRC)

Publish annual report on cyber security

Given the recent breaches, the Government should look into publishing an annual report on the cyber-security readiness of public agencies, Ms Lim suggested.

Doing so would "give some reassurance to citizens and encourage the achievement of high standards", she said.

Ms Lim also asked if there are guidelines in place so that people whose data has been compromised can be notified in a timely manner, allowing them to protect themselves and seek recourse.


MR LOUIS NG (Nee Soon GRC)

Extend childcare leave on per child basis

Extend childcare leave on a per child basis, and allow parents with two or more children to use their sick leave entitlements when a child is sick, Mr Ng said.

"It doesn't make sense that the amount of leave doesn't increase when you have more kids," he added. "Parents with four kids clearly need more leave than parents with one child."

He recalled how all three of his children contracted hand, foot and mouth disease consecutively, with one child out of school for two weeks.

"I'm not even sure if parents who have two or more kids will have sufficient annual leave once their childcare leave has been used."


MR ANG HIN KEE (Ang Mo Kio GRC)

Help public officers stay relevant

As technological disruption quickens the pace of transformation, Mr Ang asked how jobs in the public sector have changed, and what else is in store for public servants.

"I hope the Government can take the lead in ensuring that all public sector workers have access to relevant training, reskilling and redeployment opportunities," he said.

He also asked if the various ministries and public agencies are aware of the challenges faced by those who may struggle with acquiring new skill sets - especially older workers.


MS RAHAYU MAHZAM (Jurong GRC)

Firms have role in family-friendly culture

Employers have a role to play in fostering a more family-friendly workplace culture, Ms Rahayu said.

Many young parents find a sense of purpose and drive in a meaningful job, but also yearn for work-life balance so that they can spend time with their families, she added.

Ms Rahayu, who is a parent herself, asked if existing schemes to get firms to foster a more family-friendly culture have been successful, and if more can be done to achieve this goal.


MS FOO MEE HAR (West Coast GRC)

Consider e-commerce, other taxes

Ms Foo urged the Government to study all possible streams of revenue to pay for increasing needs, and for the goods and services tax (GST) to be raised as a last resort, given its broad impact on society.

"Could the Government look instead at introducing e-commerce tax, a lift in gambling, tobacco and alcohol taxes, perhaps new sources of tax revenue from carbon and sugar, and more progressive personal income tax by introducing new and higher tax brackets including those (for) the super wealthy and high-income earners?" she asked.


MR LIANG ENG HWA (Holland-Bukit Timah GRC)

Fairer to tax current generation

Mr Liang said he agreed with Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat that for recurrent spending such as healthcare, security and other social expenditures, where the current generation benefits, such spending should be funded with current taxation so that every generation pays its fair share.

"This approach would also instil spending discipline, as any further rise in recurring expenditures would have to be funded through more taxes. This in-built discipline will not only help keep our operating budget sustainable but also fairer ," Mr Liang said.


NOMINATED MP WALTER THESEIRA

Tax reliefs favour the wealthy

Associate Professor Theseira said tax structure has an important role to play in retirement adequacy, and noted that the Government grants income tax reliefs for retirement savings.

It also does not tax income from retirement accounts, except for the Supplementary Retirement Scheme at a concessionary rate.

"These tax advantages are a hidden subsidy to retirement for the rich because the value of tax relief depends on assessable income. High-income Singaporeans benefit much more than the low income do," he said.


NON-CONSTITUENCY MP DANIEL GOH

Let singles and men get maid levy relief

Associate Professor Goh noted that the foreign maid levy relief is given to married, separated, divorced and widowed women with schoolgoing children.

However, singles and married men are not eligible.

He noted that the policy objective is to encourage women to stay in the workforce, and urged the Ministry of Finance to expand the scope of the levy generously to cover all Singaporeans who engage maids to take care of children, elderly parents or people with disabilities. "This will then encourage all caregiving Singaporeans to stay in the workforce, regardless of gender and marital status," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 01, 2019, with the headline 'From The Backbench'. Print Edition | Subscribe