SkillsFuture, family support measures garner most attention in this year's Budget

Of the array of measures introduced in this year's Budget, Singaporeans are most interested in the SkillsFuture initiative, which aims to encourage people to master skills relevant to their work or pick up new ones.

Many support the scheme, but called for more details about the SkillsFuture Credit, which Singaporeans can use to fund their training costs, said Senior Minister of State for Health and Manpower Amy Khor at a forum last night to discuss the Budget.

Others felt the initial $500 credit for every Singaporean aged 25 and above may not be enough to pay for some courses.

This feedback was collated from 600 comments collected this week by government feedback arm Reach, which organised the forum.

But Dr Khor, who is Reach chairman, noted that more SkillsFuture Credit top-ups are expected in the coming years, and the money can be accumulated to pay for more expensive courses.

Senior Minister of State for Finance and Transport Josephine Teo, who co-chaired the forum at *Scape in Orchard Road, also said the credits were only one part of the equation.

The onus is on workers to be motivated and make full use of them, she added.

Apart from SkillsFuture, other Budget measures that caught the attention of citizens were those aimed at supporting families and ensuring the elderly poor have enough to live on, said Dr Khor.

A fifth of the Budget feedback that Reach received focused on support for families, with many welcoming the lower concessionary maid levy of $60.

People also lauded moves to give retirees greater peace of mind.

These include the Silver Support Scheme for the bottom 20 per cent to 30 per cent of Singaporeans aged 65 and older, said Dr Khor.

Among the 110 participants at yesterday's forum was Mr Kuok Minghui, 34, who asked why the Budget had raised Central Provident Fund contribution rates for older workers but not for younger ones.

Mrs Teo explained that the rates for older workers had been reduced some years ago to make it easier for them to find work. Monday's move restored the rates for older workers to the same level as that of younger workers.

At a separate event yesterday, Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing said this year's Budget charts a long-term course for Singapore to invest in its workers and give them "the best chance possible to compete in today's increasingly competitive globalised environment".

"Only when our workers have succeeded... will Singapore have succeeded and will Singapore have the resources to share and take care of our growing elderly population," he said at a Chinese New Year dinner organised by Tanjong Pagar GRC and Radin Mas SMC yesterday.

Reach will set up a Budget feedback booth tomorrow at Tampines Central 1, and another next Monday at Toa Payoh Hub.

Dr Khor, with Chua Chu Kang GRC MP Zaqy Mohamad and Tampines GRC MP Baey Yam Keng, will also field questions on the Budget on Facebook next Tuesday.

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