Singaporeans invited to share their views and hopes for Budget 2021

Singapore remains in a good position to identify and respond to new economic opportunities. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - The Ministry of Finance has invited Singaporeans to share their views and hopes for the upcoming Budget, slated to be unveiled in February 2021.

They can do so from Wednesday (Dec 2) until January 8, 2021 through various channels.

Government feedback unit Reach will have virtual and physical listening points set up at high-traffic areas, while People's Association and its grassroots organisations will also reach out to Singaporeans via virtual engagement platforms such as Ask Kopi Kakis #shareyourviews.

Details of the Reach physical Listening points can be found on the Reach Budget 2021 microsite, while details of the Ask Kopi Kakis #shareyourviews engagement can be found at the website.

The themes and questions to be covered include the economy, workforce, society and community, a safe and smart nation, as well as environmental sustainability. Here are some of the details:

1. Adapting our way of life to be a safe and Smart Nation

Singapore evolved and adapted its strategy to keep Covid-19 under control, and had to step up digital adoption to ensure people remain connected.

Besides providing digital access for students from low-income backgrounds, the Seniors Go Digital and Hawkers Go Digital Movement helped those who are less familiar with technology.

Questions include: How Singapore can continue to strengthen links with other countries while protecting its people, and how it can encourage and accelerate digital adoption, especially among those who are unfamiliar with the use of technology.

2. Emerging stronger as an economy

Singapore remains in a good position to identify and respond to new economic opportunities. For example, it can invest in economic resilience and sustainability as a source of growth and competitive advantage.

The Emerging Stronger Taskforce (EST) has been set up to update Singapore's economic roadmap to respond to the new realities. The taskforce has set up Alliances for Action (AfAs) in growth areas such as sustainability, enabling safe and innovative visitor experiences, and facilitating smart commerce.

Questions include: How businesses can transform and thrive in a post-Covid-19 world, what help businesses need to access bigger overseas markets such as in Asean, how to build a resilient workforce to support the economy, and how the Government can partner businesses and workers to deliver support schemes better and at larger scale.

3. Emerging stronger as a workforce

Covid-19 has accelerated economic transformation and the business environment has become more volatile. Older workers, lower-wage workers and gig workers have been particularly affected.

Singapore needs to strengthen support for workers, including softening or lessening the impact of unemployment on the vulnerable.

Questions include: How to equip the workforce with the skills to stay relevant, how to build a culture of lifelong learning and constant reskilling in the workforce, how to better support middle-aged workers who may face greater difficulty in acquiring new skills, how the Government, employers, and lower-wage workers can work together to uplift workers' incomes in a meaningful and sustainable way, and how to help gig economy and informal workers save more towards their healthcare and retirement.

4. Emerging stronger as a society and community

The pandemic has posed greater challenges to the vulnerable groups. At the same time, there has been a deepened sense of solidarity and a greater momentum for giving.

If there can be more participation and resources from the community, this will lead to better support for those in need and a more inclusive and resilient society.

Questions include: How to encourage stronger partnerships across the Government, businesses and the community to support vulnerable groups more effectively, how to review and improve current schemes to further support families and community in caring for one another, and how to better assist low-income households who still need further help with their cost of living.

5. Building a green and sustainable future

There can be collaboration between the Government, community and businesses to make Singapore a liveable city, promote the sustainability agenda, and tackle the effects of climate change.

Questions include: New areas where the Government can partner businesses and citizens to improve Singapore's liveability and promote environmental, resource, and climate sustainability; and how the Government can finance green infrastructure and initiatives, while managing costs across the different generations who will benefit.

As part of the SG Together Emerging Stronger Conversations, Reach will hold a pre-Budget conversation on Wednesday, chaired by Minister in the Prime Minister's Office and Second Minister for Finance and National Development Indranee Rajah.

She will be joined by the Reach chairman and Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office and Ministry of National Development Tan Kiat How.

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