What exactly is Budget 2021?
The Singapore Budget is an annual financial plan, put together to examine the current landscape, and to see what else can be done for the next year. It’s basically a framework the Government uses to plan its spending and revenue for the next year.
In light of Budget 2021, the Ministry of Finance (MOF) has taken to asking the public for their suggestions and input. Yes, now is the time for your voice to be heard!
How exactly does the Singapore Budget work?
Each year, MOF conducts multiple discussions with the other ministries, agencies, and even the general public. Feedback is reviewed, and the budget is consolidated by the Minister of Finance. This is presented to Parliament before the commencement of the new financial year (which falls on 1 April every year). Parliament then sits as a Committee of Supply to review the amount of funds requested by each respective ministry.
After close examination and discussion, Parliament passes the Supply Bill, before sending it to the President for approval. Once approved, the Supply Bill becomes the Supply Act, an instituted law that outlines how the Government’s spending should proceed in the upcoming year. Needless to say, discipline and prudence are key!
How has the Singapore Budget helped us?
The Singapore Budget is used in many ways. This year alone, it was used to tide individuals, families, and businesses over during the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, the February 2020 Unity Budget comprised a $4 billion Stabilisation and Support Package for workers and Enterprises, followed by the Resilience Budget in March worth $48 billion, the $5.1 billion Solidarity Budget in April, as well as the Fortitude Budget in May to the tune of $33 billion. Overall, almost $100 billion was used, with around $52 billion drawn from previous budgets.
The Jobs Support Scheme rolled out in February also saw the Government granting 25 to 75 per cent wage subsidies to companies, which helped them keep their local employees. The Wage Credit Scheme also helps to relieve pressure for businesses, even helping to keep smaller ones afloat!
Under the MOE Financial Assistance scheme, transport subsidies and increased school meals subsidies were introduced. The annual pre-university bursary quantum was also raised from $900 to $1,000, on top of enhanced bursaries for students in polytechnics, autonomous universities, and the Institute of Technical Education.
Other measures include raising the number of government-supported pre-school places to 80 per cent by 2025, as well as an additional one-off SkillsFuture credit top-up of $500 for every Singaporean aged 25 and above. In addition, the Government has also set aside $5 billion for a Coastal and Flood Protection Fund, as well as aims to eliminate combustion engines on our roads by 2040.
Note: The measures outlined above are by no means exhaustive.
What are your suggestions?
Budget 2021 will be presented in February next year, with the Ministry of Finance inviting Singaporeans to contribute their input from 2 December 2020 to 8 January 2021. Interested individuals can do so via these avenues:
- Singapore Budget Website
- REACH Budget 2021 Microsite
- REACH Singapore Facebook
- REACH Singapore Instagram
- Budget 2021 Form
- PA Ask Kopi Kakis #shareyourviews Webpage
Do note that the themes for the upcoming Budget 2021 revolve around the economy, workforce, society and community, environmental sustainability, as well as creating a safe and smart nation.
For those who prefer to voice their opinions in person, REACH will be organising physical and virtual listening points. One Pre-Budget Conversation has already been held on 2 December, and was conducted by Tan Kiat How, Chairman of Reach and Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office and the Ministry of National Development, as well as Indranee Rajah, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office and Second Minister for Finance and National Development.
For upcoming budget conversations, check their website for more information.
So, what do you hope to see implemented in the upcoming Budget 2021? Here’s to climbing new heights, and to building a better Singapore for all of us!