Updated: 03/05/2014 02:38

MPs: High costs of doing business

MPs: High costs of doing business

Day Two of the Budget Debate opened with MPs questioning the high costs of doing business in Singapore. 

MP for Ang Mo Kio GRC Inderjit Singh was the first to pinpoint this. 

He said companies are facing a "triple whammy" of rising rentals and utilities costs, labour costs and a shortage of workers as a result of economic restructuring. 

"The ambitious change that the government desires is resulting in the confluence of too many factors at one time. High business costs, especially rentals; increasing labour costs as a result of policy changes like Progressive Wage, CPF increases and a tightened labour market; and also a steep reduction in foreign worker quota."

He urges the government to recalibrate its rate of change - so that businesses would not be inclined to relocate across the Causeway to Iskandar. 

Mr Singh says two areas require attention - the right cost structure for Singapore and the right wage levels for Singaporeans. 

And he's asked the government to set up a cost competitiveness review committee to address the root causes behind rising business costs. 

MP for Sembawang GRC Ong Teng Koon shares similar concerns about the economy. 

He notes the drop in corporate and personal income tax receipts in the Budget. 

This, he says, contradicts Gross Domestic Project growth of 4.2 per cent last year. 

"I'm concerned that these two components of Government revenue is lower because firstly, our ability to fund all the good things that our citizens aspire to are directly contingent on how much revenue the Government raises. How do we subsidise more HDB flats, provide more education, build more MRT lines or put up more hospital beds?"

Moving onto the topic of the silver generation, MP for Jurong GRC David Ong says that he's concerned about ageism in the workplace. 

Employers have to change their mindsets. 

He calls upon the civil service to take the lead in making the workplace "non-discriminatory and inclusive". 

"Older workers should not be seen as liabilities or as a cost component. Rather, the main reason why companies will be willing to hire or retain older workers is for the value of their loyalty, experience, reliability, maturing and familiarity with their jobs."

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