Budget 2020: GST hike, climate change, help for seniors, workers and families are top concerns

Worries over climate change and the looming goods and services tax hike were among key concerns in findings released by government feedback unit Reach and the People's Association.
Worries over climate change and the looming goods and services tax hike were among key concerns in findings released by government feedback unit Reach and the People's Association.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - With less than two weeks before the Budget on Feb 18, support for workers, seniors and families are top of Singaporeans' minds.

Worries over climate change and the looming goods and services tax (GST) hike were also among key concerns in findings released by government feedback unit Reach and the People's Association (PA) on Wednesday (Feb 5).

More than 10,000 responses were collected for the annual exercise by the two agencies and the Finance Ministry, to get feedback ahead of the Budget.

Workers cited time and money as factors stopping them from taking up training. Elderly respondents were also worried about the difficulty of courses or doubted if the courses would make them more employable.

Others said employers were not sponsoring or offering time-off to attend courses.

Respondents suggested more or regular SkillsFuture credit top-ups, subsidies for training costs, mandatory training leave, and clearer training frameworks.

They also called for more financial support for seniors who find it difficult to cope with the cost of living, such as enhancements to the Central Provident Fund and Medisave schemes.

There were also suggestions to have community-based initiatives to engage seniors, while those aged 60 and above called for support groups to help them stay positive and motivated.

In terms of families, Singaporeans called on the government to give more help for raising children, caring for ageing parents, and with daily expenses.

Suggestions included preschool support, help for retired parents, and more grants and shorter waiting times for Build-To-Order flats to encourage more young couples to start a family.

Many Singaporeans also wanted to see more activities that encourage families to provide mutual care and support in the community, beyond government support.

 
 

Apart from support for workers, seniors and families, Reach and PA said many were also worried about the imminent GST rise and wanted the government to find other ways to raise revenue. They asked for a comprehensive GST support package, especially for lower- and middle-income families.

On sustainability, many said the government and businesses could work together further to reduce the use of single-use plastics.

Reach chairman Sam Tan said the government would consider the feedback that has been raised.

"We are heartened to see Singaporeans contributing ideas not just for personal needs but also in consideration of others in the community, including those who may be more vulnerable," added Mr Tan, who is Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Social and Family Development.

The feedback was gathered online and through face-to-face engagements held over six weeks from Dec 2 last year to Jan 10, on themes such as training and employment, security and external relations, and support for families and seniors.

The public will also be able to give their views after the Budget is delivered, with details on feedback channels to be released.