SINGAPORE: Ahead of the delivery of Singapore’s Budget on Monday, cost of living and labour crunch are among some issues MPs and businesses hope will be addressed.
Several MPs Channel NewsAsia spoke to said that a key concern especially amongst the sandwiched class is the cost of living in the country.
As for the elderly residents, they are concerned about healthcare costs, said the MPs.
On their part, businesses are worried about the manpower crunch and over the past month, there have been several calls to ease the tightening of the foreign worker inflow.
The government has been calling on companies to make concerted efforts to improve their productivity levels.
Zainudin Nordin, chairman of Government Parliamentary Committee (GPC) for Manpower, said: "When we look and talk about productivity, it sounds good. But how do we implement the productivity uplifting of our SMEs and companies? There needs to be a strong collaboration.
"When there is an intent on the part of the government to provide the resources in terms of consultancy and funds, there must also be a commitment and passion amongst the employers to see and understand that whenever they need to do more things, the first thing that must come to their mind is, ’how can I do more without employing more people?’. That is the direct question they have to ask themselves. Productivity is about doing more with lesser resources, that’s the question.
"So, that should be the first question that comes to our mind, and when we need assistance from the government we should be able to come in and help in a much more concerted way.
"At the same time we also know the employees must also continue to ensure (they stay) relevant. So machinery, resources and employees must all be in tandem to do this. The partnership must be stronger."
Dr Lim Wee Kiak, chairman of GPC for Defence and Foreign Affairs, said: "We have received feedback as to the cost of childcare, cost of education and tuition, and these add a lot of stress to young parents. On top of that, they have to take care of their elderly parents. I think the key for that is the cost of healthcare.
"So within this Budget itself, I hope there will be some consideration for, especially the young and the old, and that will help the sandwiched class a lot."
Mr Baey Yam Keng, chairman of GPC for Culture, Community and Youth, said: "There has been some anticipation, because there has been a (budget) surplus. People know there is a surplus and people would look forward to investment in infrastructure. The gaps that we are seeing now in transport, housing, healthcare...people want to see their immediate frustrations being addressed...as well as the cost of living, these would be the key issues from residents.
"There is some apprehension over whether rentals will go up, if transport fares will go up.
"At the same time there are also residents operating their own businesses, the SMEs, who also have concerns about the manpower crunch, the cost of dong business and how they can continue to survive in this climate."
The Budget Statement will be delivered in Parliament by Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam.
Channel NewsAsia will carry a special Budget programme from 3pm on Monday, together with Mr Tharman’s speech live.
Budget 2013 will be tabled in Parliament against the backdrop of a 1.3 percent GDP growth for the entire 2012.
For 2013, the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) has forecast an economic growth of one to three percent.
MTI also revealed on Friday that labour productivity had fallen by 2.6 percent in 2012, a reversal from the growth of 1.3 per cent from the previous year.
The ministry said productivity also dropped by 2.5 per cent in the fourth quarter, the fifth consecutive quarter of decline.
It said the fall was broad—based, with manufacturing, construction and services all experiencing negative growth.
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