Budget 2018 debate

Lawmakers offer ideas galore to improve policies

Singapore's Parliament House located in the Downtown Core of the country's Civic District.
Singapore's Parliament House located in the Downtown Core of the country's Civic District.PHOTO: ST FILE

MPs suggested ways to improve various policies yesterday, the second day of the Budget debate. These include letting people have a say in Budget allocation and having students attend full-day schools where they also do their homework.

These are some recommendations:

SG 'HONGBAO' FOR CHARITY

Singaporeans aged 21 and older will receive an SG Bonus "hongbao" of between $100 and $300 this year. Ms Denise Phua (Jalan Besar GRC) and Dr Lim Wee Kiak (Sembawang GRC) want Singaporeans to be given an easy way to donate the money to charity.

CITIZENS' ROLE IN THE BUDGET

Nominated MP (NMP) Mahdev Mohan urged the Government to take a leaf from the Our Singapore Conversation drive in 2013. Just as it had gathered views from 50,000 citizens on a range of policies, he says that with participatory Budget dialogues, Singaporeans can help decide how public finances are spent and how the Budget is implemented.

LEAD IN ELDERLY-FRIENDLY DESIGN

Ms Tin Pei Ling (MacPherson) believes Singapore can become the authority on setting elderly-friendly design standards. She suggested applying such designs to environments such as common spaces and facilities, workflows and public processes to help seniors thrive in Singapore.

FULL-DAY SCHOOL FOR STUDENTS

To further level the playing field among students, NMP Chia Yong Yong called for all schools to be converted to full-day schools. Students will complete their homework and learning programmes in school, reducing the reliance on tuition classes by students from better-off families.

ENCOURAGING GREEN ENERGY

To boost awareness and interest in the use of renewable energy, Dr Lim suggested offering subsidised or free energy consultation. This will encourage greater buy-in from people if they knew more about its cost-saving features and installation procedures.

TARGETED IP GRANTS

Offering targeted grants for the costs of intellectual property (IP) and research and development (R&D) will benefit smaller companies more, said Ms Jessica Tan (East Coast GRC). Now, many do not benefit from increased tax deductions on licensing payments for commercial use of IP and eligible expenses on R&D done here. The reason: They hardly make any profit as they are just starting out.

HIGHER HOUSING GRANT FOR SINGLES

Workers' Party Non-Constituency MP Dennis Tan wants the new Proximity Housing Grant of $10,000 for singles to be raised to be on a par with the $20,000 given to married Singaporean couples.

This new grant for singles is for them to buy a resale HDB flat to live near their parents.

The raised sum will better reflect the bigger role singles often play as caregivers compared with their married siblings, he added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 01, 2018, with the headline 'Lawmakers offer ideas galore to improve policies'. Print Edition | Subscribe