Singapore: Reactions to the Proposed 2012 Budget

The highlights of the proposed 2012 budget of the Singapore government include the commitment to lower the country’s dependence on foreign workforce, greater assistance to the elderly, the disabled and the lower-income families, and boosting the capacity of public transport and public hospitals.

Simeon Ang notes there are no significant stimulus measures in the budget:

Pragmatism, an attribute that our government is known to propagate in all of its policies, is clearly evident in this year’s budget. Analysts were right to tone down expectations about the possibilities that Budget 2012 would pump a huge stimulus into the economy on a short term basis.

… it is imperative to note that the government has not taken too kindly to stimulus measures, opting instead, to invest on a long term basis. However astute as it might be, this leaves the short and medium term vulnerable to exposure to an external shock.

Singapore budget government logo

Singapore budget government logo

Musings from the Lion City criticizes the proposed budget and calls it “The Redundant Budget”:

The title I would give to this budget is “The Redundant Budget”. As many of you would probably had guessed, I find several things in the new budget to be redundant.

It is as if the Singapore government knows what is needed by Singaporeans but is unsure how much to push to give the benefits needed by the disadvantaged. So the budget is filled with half-hearted measures that don’t do enough.

Ng E-Jay questions the lack of targeted assistance programs to poor sectors:

A concern I have for Budget 2012 is the lack of economic stimulus provided to the nation, given the grim global economic outlook triggered by the worsening financial crisis in Europe.

As Singapore is expected to be caught in the maelstrom, it is puzzling why the government has chosen not to provide more targeted assistance to lower income workers and families. Is this a sign of complacency at the darkening economic clouds that are looming over the horizon?

After writing a two-part article about the budget, Leong Sze Hian concludes by reminding the government to cut the rhetoric:

Need to cut rhetoric, and do something, anything, if the government wants to regain some credibility.

My Little Corner suggests a better indicator of productivity:

The benefits in this budget again does nothing in enhancing work-life balance for all Singaporeans. All the benefits are mostly in monetary terms. There is still no definition of how the productivity is to be measured. Labour Productivity (average output per worker-hour) should be emphasized instead of general productivity. Labour Productivity will show the true picture that the increase in productivity is not due to the exploitation of workers. This is sadly, not mentioned.

Ravi Philemon recommends more funding for sectors with very little productivity:

There are quite a few similar sectors where there can be very little productivity, innovation and skills growth.

Budget 2012 could have identified such sectors and increased funding for such sectors, specifically aimed at increases in income growth, which may have induced more Singaporeans to take up jobs in these sectors.

The National Solidarity Party describes the budget as well balanced:

…this is a well balanced budget, hard-nosed in some areas and compassionate in others. We welcome the greater emphasis in fostering a more inclusive society and the slew of measures introduced to make life better for Singaporeans. We hope that more could be done in future budgets.

Reacting to the provision in the budget that gives incentives to seniors who will give up their spacious flats for a smaller housing unit, Singapore Notes thinks it won’t work:

No one is looking forward to a lower standard of living, not after a life-time of toil. Others may have to hang on to their older, more spacious units for other pragmatic reasons. Their children have just started work and savings, and economic propects, are just not enough to commit to a 30 year mortgage. If every cloud has a silver lining, this ain't it.

Guanyinmiao recognizes the budget support for persons with disabilities:

The Budget, in the previous years, has been criticised for neglecting Singaporeans with disabilities; in the past (here), the assistance was perceived to be inadequate, and not comprehensive enough. This time round, the assortment of proposals does help Singaporeans with disabilities become more independent, with the providence of tools – not handouts per se – to empower individuals for the fulfilment of ambitions.

The Singapore Democratic Party has an alternative ‘shadow’ budget. Terence Lee lists the programs in the budget that would benefit entrepreneurs.

A controversial expenditure item is the $1.1 billion for the purchase of 550 buses to decongest traffic in the city state. Many are opposed to this proposal. Goh Meng Seng questions the use of public money to help private companies:

If the government is to spend over a billion on these companies, it must well nationalize these companies! Else, how could it account for the taxpayer's monies spent on private companies for them to make more money?

Lucky Tan also criticizes the item:

This move has sparked concerns among Singaporeans because the govt is giving money to a privatized profit oriented company and it is not clear if they will just end up helping the company to enhance its profits as the company can now save some of its own money that it would have had to spend to meet the minimum standards.

This whole episode shows the constraints and limitations the govt faces when it tries to upgrade a public transport system it now no longer controls.

The money should be given as a loan, suggests Scrutinizing the Singapore government:

I don’t see the rational to give these privatized companies such a huge amount of money for free. With more bus comes greater operating cost. Will the transport companies then again cite operating cost increase to justify their fee hike? If the money is to be loaned to the companies with interest, the returns from the loan can be put to better use that benefit the general public.


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