Parliament passes record $79.9 billion budget

SINGAPORE - A record $79.9 billion Budget has been approved by Parliament on Friday, with the vision of "building a fair and inclusive society", said Leader of the House Ng Eng Hen and Speaker Halimah Yacob, according to a report in The Straits Times.

Dr Ng said that after four consecutive Budgets: "Surely and steadily, deep structural changes have been enacted to better prepare Singapore for significant challenges ahead."

After nine days of discussion on Budget 2015, Dr Ng said there has been a fundamental shift in the Government's spending plans to "maintain (Singapore's) precious social compact and bring opportunities and benefits to all."

He added that the new initiatives and programmes introduced by Government over the past four years have significantly strengthened social safety nets and redistributed more wealth to the lower and middle class. They have also increased the Government's recurrent budget commitments.

Dr Ng noted that despite general consensus among the government and non-government members on this shift, some MPs "advised caution on fiscal sustainability and were right to do so."

Meanwhile, Madam Halimah said in her round-up speech on Friday that "pragmatism dictates that ideology should not determine how we craft policies but rather what is really of benefit to our people and what really works for us."

She added that 54 MPs responded to the Budget statement and a total of 65 MPs submitted 466 cuts to join the debates on the budgets of individual ministries.

Madam Halimah concluded her speech by saying that there is still a lot of work to do, and also highlighted the significance of communicating the introduced policies to Singaporeans more effectively.