Channel NewsAsia
Updated: 03/07/2013 05:14 | By Channel NewsAsia

Most MPs voice their support for Budget 2013

Most MPs voice their support for Budget 2013

Most MPs voice their support for Budget 2013

SINGAPORE: Most MPs, including the opposition, continued to voice their support for Budget 2013.

Opposition MP for Aljunied GRC Pritam Singh noted how the government has acknowledged that meritocracy alone will not assure Singaporeans of social mobility.

Other MPs described the Budget as inclusive and forward—looking.

They spoke about how the government has introduced measures to restructure the economy for better jobs and focus on building a fair and inclusive society.

MP for Moulmein—Kallang GRC Denise Phua described the Budget as "good and thoughtful" and a "budget with a heart".

But like many of the MPs who have spoken over the past two days, she also touched on how the government can do more to get to the root of the problem facing businesses — high rental costs.

She suggested installing cooling measures to reduce such costs.

Ms Phua said: "It is a known fact that many SMEs and even private food court stallholders have been suffering from the seemingly uncontrolled spiral increase in rental. Rental hikes that run way ahead of GDP have been the bane of businesses. If allowed to continue, rental increases will put out not only current businesses but also extinguish the flames of small businesses of the future."

MP for Potong Pasir Sitoh Yih Pin spoke about how the government needed to manage expectations.

He went on to list what he described as the "bad news" that Singaporeans should hear — telling Singaporean graduates that some of them will never stay in private housing or own a car, and that the well—off in society has the obligation to serve.

He said even as the government continues to give good healthcare that is affordable to all, the latest high—tech expensive care options will not be available to all.

Mr Sitoh said Certificate of Entitlements for cars too may never go back to the old days.

He said it takes courage for the government to do this.

And he quoted the BBC comedy "Yes Minister" where a character called Sir Humphrey, famously said that "courage" is a dirty word in politics.

Mr Sitoh said: "The currency of politics is trust. While we must strive to improve on our performance, we also need to get down to the difficult business of managing expectations. Expectation is a spectrum. Most politicians only talk about the higher end of the spectrum — the lofty things that are nice to hear. But as responsible politicians governing Singapore, we will have to be honest and we will have to communicate the bad news, the harsh realities that each and every Singaporean has to face sooner or later."

A total of 27 MPs spoke on Wednesday.

Parliament is expected to wrap up its Budget Debate on Thursday with Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam giving his response to what has been raised so far.

After that, the budget allocation of the various ministries will be examined in the House, with the most number of questions filed for the Transport Ministry.

— CNA/de

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