Singaporeans generally support Budget 2019: Reach survey

Results showed that support was higher for social measures, as respondents noted the Government's efforts to provide stronger social safety nets.
Results showed that support was higher for social measures, as respondents noted the Government's efforts to provide stronger social safety nets.PHOTO: ST FILE

Over 80% back Merdeka package but less support for efforts to cut foreign labour in service sector

More than 80 per cent of Singaporeans polled on this year's Budget supported the Merdeka Generation Package, but support was lower for the Government's efforts to gradually reduce the number of foreigners in the service sector.

Government feedback and engagement agency Reach yesterday announced results from the Budget 2019 Feedback Exercise, which saw more than 4,500 Singaporeans providing feedback across 14 platforms.

Reach engaged 2,601 of these respondents through face-to-face meets at mobile feedback booths, known as Listening Points, and another 1,449 through a telephone poll.

The rest gave feedback through dialogues, online feedback and messaging apps.

Results showed that support was higher for social measures, as respondents noted the Government's efforts to provide stronger social safety nets. The Merdeka Generation Package was supported by 85 per cent of respondents from the telephone poll, and 83 per cent of those at Listening Points.

While they agreed that the enhancement of Community Health Assist Scheme subsidies would help more Singaporeans cope with their healthcare expenses, some respondents reiterated the need for healthcare costs to be kept affordable in the long term.

On employment, Reach said around 84 per cent of those engaged at its Listening Points and 71 per cent of those who responded to its telephone poll agreed that efforts to transform industries and deepen workers' capabilities would improve job opportunities for Singaporeans in the new economy.

 
 
 
 

Eight in 10 welcomed the move to raise the maximum salary criterion for the Workfare Income Supplement, which would allow more workers to receive payouts.

When it came to reducing the number of foreigners in the service sector, however, only 66 per cent of those from Listening Points and 58 per cent of respondents from the telephone poll supported the reduction of the dependency ratio ceiling. Many cited the importance of long-term manpower sustainability and unlocking potential employment opportunities for Singaporeans.

Reach chairman Sam Tan said the findings show most Singaporeans understand that the Budget 2019 announcements address both short-and long-term needs of Singapore, as well as those of Singaporeans.

"It is heartening that more Singaporeans are coming forward to share their views candidly," he said.

Healthcare costs and media literacy were among top issues at a dialogue between community leaders from Malay Muslim and Indian Muslim organisations at The Grassroots' Club in Ang Mo Kio yesterday.

Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Masagos Zulkifli, who is also Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, urged the community to relook its personal insurance to ensure they are covered but cautioned them not to overpurchase policies.

He also stressed the importance of staying active, both in body and mind, to prevent burdening future generations with medical needs.

Mr Masagos was responding to a question on how the $200 Medisave top-up might be adequate for those in the Merdeka Generation.

The two-hour session was the second of an inaugural three-part dialogue organised by the People's Association, in collaboration with community self-help group Mendaki, the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore and the People's Association Malay Activity Executive Committees Council.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 25, 2019, with the headline 'S'poreans generally support Budget 2019: Reach survey'. Print Edition | Subscribe