Forum gathers public views on next year's Budget

SINGAPORE - Foreign labour, better help for the disabled and housing were hot topics at Thursday's forum to gather views on next year's Budget.

Organised by government feedback unit Reach, the two-hour session drew about 100 people ranging from students to businessmen and retirees.

It was chaired by Reach chairman Dr Amy Khor and Minister of State for Finance Josephine Teo, and is the first consultation to be held for the Budget.

Some 20 people got the chance to air their views.

Among them was Mr Lai Yew Sin, who suggested that foreign workers be hired using a system similar to bidding for certificates of entitlement. He argued that the current levy system does not promote productivity.

"Less productive companies can still access unskilled workers," said the 58-year-old, who is semi-retired.

Ms Sherena Loh, 54, observed that the costs of mobility aids such as prosthetic limbs and wheelchairs have skyrocketed. For example, leg callipers cost more than a thousand dollars, up from just $300 a few years ago.

The executive director, who is wheelchair- bound, suggested that use of Medisave could be extended to equipment for the disabled.

Several called for housing to be made more affordable, especially for singles and families with children.

The panel praised the diversity of opinions raised. Mrs Teo said: "There are some useful ideas that will cause us to think even harder."

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