Budget to feature support for families

An important theme of this year's Budget will be how the Government can continue to support families, from their children's education to helping them care for their elders, said Senior Minister of State for Finance and Transport Josephine Teo.

''That is a very important theme,'' Mrs Teo told The Sunday Times at a community event.

This year's Budget will also continue to strike a balance between looking after the immediate needs of citizens and planning for future generations, she said.

As for businesses and workers, they can look forward to items that will help to strengthen the economy beyond immediate concerns, and that will offer opportunities for ''continued and sustainable advancement'' for Singaporeans in the medium to longer term, said Mrs Teo.

She was at a Chinese New Year reception at the Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations' Toa Payoh headquarters.

Her comments come days after Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in his Chinese New Year message that the Government is doing all it can to strengthen the ties that bind families together.

Details of two major initiatives are expected to be unveiled in the Budget speech by Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam tomorrow afternoon.

One is SkillsFuture, which aims to develop a system of lifelong learning for workers so they can continually stay ahead of global competition.

Added Mr Lee Yi Shyan, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry and National Development, who was also at the event: ''We are investing in the future, so capability building will be an important part of (the Budget).''

The other is the Silver Support Scheme, which will help low income elderly persons with insufficient retirement funds and little or no family support.

Speaking to reporters at the same event, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said: ''A good Budget is one that can continue to help our economy grow, so that we can get enough finances to support us for the longer and medium term.''

Dr Ng said the Budget should also take care of those who are unable to take care of themselves, such as the poor, the disadvantaged and the disabled, as well as acknowledge the contributions of citizens who, ''in the prime of their lives, helped Singapore grow''.


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