ON THE AGENDA
Parliament opened the debate on the Budget statement yesterday, with 25 Members of Parliament speaking. Almost all of them supported the Budget unveiled on Feb 23 by Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam.
THE issue of Singapore's fiscal sustainability was raised by at least eight MPs yesterday, with some urging fiscal discipline.
Of particular concern was the move to include Temasek Holdings' projected returns in the calculation of the Government's Net Investment Returns, which currently include only those of the GIC and Monetary Authority of Singapore.
Mr Hri Kumar Nair (Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC) warned that while this would boost spending power, dipping into the country's reserves now would mean leaving less for future generations.
Left is right
THE strengthening of social safety nets in this year's Budget, with new programmes such as SkillsFuture and Silver Support, signals a timely and welcome shift in Singapore's budgeting philosophy, said the Workers' Party's Ms Sylvia Lim (Aljunied GRC).
Calling it a shift to the left, she said it would help mitigate Singapore's income and wealth disparity.
Implementation is key
EVEN as they welcomed the SkillsFuture programme that will help Singaporeans develop their skills to advance their careers, MPs said the way it is implemented is key to its success.
Some asked for more courses for people to choose from, while others wanted guarantees that the courses provided would be of good quality.
WATCHING the Ah Boys To Men movies on television made Mr Baey Yam Keng (Tampines GRC) realise that some jokes were lost when translated from dialect into Mandarin.
He asked for more leeway to use Chinese dialects in Singapore movies. More flexibility in implementing such policies can boost Singapore's cultural heritage and soft power, he said.
Workers' Party on CPF
THE Workers' Party has called for more flexibility in the Central Provident Fund (CPF) system, proposing that Singaporeans be allowed to receive monthly payouts earlier, when they turn 60 instead of 64.
The proposal was made by Non-Constituency MP Gerald Giam and reiterated in Mandarin by Mr Chen Show Mao (Aljunied GRC).
Whose money is it?
DO PEOPLE have an unfettered right to spend their CPF monies however they please?
Nominated MP Chia Yong Yong, who raised the question, did not think so, pointing out that an individual's savings include contributions from employers and government top-ups from public funds.
So, Singaporeans have a moral obligation to spend their CPF monies judiciously, she said, because if they are left with nothing in their old age, other taxpayers will be saddled with the burden of supporting them.
This article was first published on March 4, 2015.
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