SINGAPORE: Singapore’s Parliament is set to debate the Finance Minister’s 2013 Budget statement from Tuesday, and thereafter the Budget allocations for the various ministries.
The Government Parliament Committees (GPCs) have been discussing the key issues which Members of Parliament intend to raise during the Committee of Supply.
Some of the topics on the cards include a call for the return of dual—key HDB flats to promote togetherness within multi—generational families, measures to address the income gap, reducing stress in schools and allowing students to have their holidays without tests and assignments.
The work of three newly—formed ministries will come under scrutiny.
In the area of social and family development, GPC Chair Seah Kian Peng believes more can be done to integrate the work of many players, like family service centres and Community Development Councils to provide help to the needy.
Synergising the work of the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth is a key challenge, said its GPC Chair Baey Yam Keng.
Mr Baey said: "The ministry’s work is different from other infrastructure or financial, economic ministries. I don’t think we should measure it strictly by figures or KPIs (key performance indicators). A lot could be through sense: whether we feel for a country, the level of integration, social capital. These are things which are difficult to measure exactly. The public would also understand that in this climate, a lot of things are intangible."
GPC Chairman of the Ministry of Communications and Information Zaqy Mohamed said the ministry will focus on how info—communications, media and design can contribute to future economic growth.
The GPC also wants to know if the ministry will enhance support for public service broadcasting and with the view to improve the content experience and reach to Singaporeans.
Other topics to be raised include resolving neighbour and community disputes, organised crime, recidivism of released prisoners and efforts to re—integrate them, an update on community policing, enhancing protection of individuals against harassment on the internet and enhancing road safety and enforcing traffic regulations.
In the area of housing, GPC Chair Lee Bee Wah will talk about bringing back dual—key HDB flats to promote togetherness within multi—generational families.
Ms Lee noted that some residents have been asking for such flats as they have parents or parents—in—law living with them and they have also cited flat size as a deterrent factor for having more children.
Issues which will be raised during the National Development Ministry’s debate also include a review of flat prices to make them more affordable, housing for singles and an increase in grants for town councils.
Ms Lee’s GPC also takes care of the environment. Topics include improving the existing drainage management system in view of a growing population, the construction of more hawker centres and a smoking ban for more public places.
The transport GPC will be bringing up the fare formula review, the Vehicle Quota System and rail reliability and connectivity.
The GPC for finance, trade and industry is concerned about making Singapore attractive for businesses, given the economic outlook and business conditions.
It will also be talking about measures to address the high cost of living.
Singaporeans at the core of a growing workforce is the main theme for the GPC for manpower.
Zainudin Nordin, GPC chair for manpower, said: "We are also quite aware of the tightness of the market. We need to supplement our workforce with talent which is relevant, talent which is of high calibre and which can come in and contribute directly to our economy."
Some of the recent high—profile accidents in the SAF are of concern to GPC chair for defence and foreign affairs, Lim Wee Kiak.
Dr Lim said: "The SAF has a lot more to do to build up the public confidence to ensure that their safety records are not marred by further incidents. Certainly the measures announced by the Defence Minister last year to enhance the safety in the SAF are welcomed and our GPC will be focusing on what more can be done. Another part of the SAF is talking about recognition of National Service. There will never be enough in monetary terms, in terms of rewards to recognise the sacrifices made by our NS men. But nice gestures go a long way in building up confidence".
Dr Lim added that ASEAN’s centrality will also be discussed during the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ debate, especially the 2015 target of an ASEAN Economic Community.
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