2-week Budget debate starts on Monday, MPs to discuss GST hike, support measures

The raising of the GST rate will be among the topics for discussion and scrutiny during the debate. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - Parliament is expected to sit for about two weeks starting from Monday (Feb 28) to debate the Budget 2022 statement for the new financial year, as Singapore makes moves to emerge strongly from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The raising of the goods and services tax rate, schemes to cushion the blow of higher taxes and revisions to foreign worker policies will be among the topics for discussion and scrutiny during the annual marathon debate.

The first three days of the sitting will focus on the Budget statement, which sets out the Government's fiscal priorities and policies for the financial year starting on April 1.

The Budget statement, with the theme Charting Our New Way Forward Together, was delivered in Parliament by Finance Minister Lawrence Wong last Friday.

Ms Tin Pei Ling (MacPherson) said she will zero in on the aspects of the Budget statement that focus on the cost of living, national reserves and building for the future.

Mr Don Wee (Chua Chu Kang GRC) plans to use his speech to call for increased access to mentorship opportunities, especially for youth, and to improve social mobility.

He said "strengthening Singapore's social compact" is a theme that makes the Budget this year significant, and it is one that he will mention as well.

Fellow constituency MP Zhulkarnain Abdul Rahim will also speak about this, and Mr Zhulkarnain said he will suggest three ways how this compact can be strengthened.

Improving how Singapore cares for others is what Ms Carrie Tan (Nee Soon GRC) will focus on in her speech, which will touch on "what we need to do to help the mental well-being of our care workers and caregivers".

For Jurong GRC MP Shawn Huang, championing opportunities for every individual and business and making sure no Singaporean is left behind are key themes.

"We have a collective responsibility for one another, and to build a stronger Singapore for our future generations," he said.

On Wednesday, the third day of the sitting, Mr Wong will respond to MPs' comments and concerns before Parliament votes on the Budget.

Ministers will then present the budgets of their individual ministries, and MPs will scrutinise and comment on their spending plans.

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Before the Budget debate begins on Monday, the impact of more visitors on sensitive intertidal habitats with marine wildlife here will come under the spotlight during question time.

Intertidal habitats refer to the ecosystems found on marine shorelines, which are subject to high and low tides.

According to the agenda set in the Order Paper issued by the Clerk of Parliament, Workers' Party MP Leon Perera (Aljunied GRC) will ask if measures are being taken to reduce the negative impact on these habitats, such as Changi Beach, in view of increased visitorship.

Similarly, Mr Yip Hon Weng (Yio Chu Kang) wants to know what are the measures in place to curb the increase in human traffic and destructive human activity to marine wildlife.

The marathon debate is expected to wrap up on March 10.

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