SINGAPORE: In the days following the Budget Statement in Parliament last Monday, two topics have been the most discussed on the government feedback portal, REACH.
They are the Wage Credit Scheme (WCS) aimed at helping companies offset labour costs as they restructure, and productivity issues.
REACH has been conducting the sessions over the past week and received almost 450 inputs.
On Sunday, REACH chairman Dr Amy Khor and two members of its supervisory panel engaged Singaporeans in a Facebook chat on Budget 2013.
While participants agreed that the Budget had addressed the concerns of several groups, there were some who continued to champion topics like a minimum wage for workers in Singapore.
In the Wage Credit Scheme, the government will fund 40 per cent of any wage increase for a Singaporean employee up till a cap of S$4,000 a month, over the next three years.
Participants described it as "generous", but had concerns that employers may not be willing to share the productivity gains with workers, or may try to exploit loopholes.
On the tightening of foreign worker policies, REACH said participants worry that higher business costs could eventually be passed on to consumers.
REACH added one scheme that is well—received is the reduction in the concessionary maid levy.
But still, some are concerned that such financial help will be diluted with high inflation rates.
Dr Khor said: "Many realise the resolve of the government to promote and get companies to restructure for productivity, quality—driven growth. For the contributors who are likely employers, many of them actually talked about the fact that they need time to restructure and that they are concerned if they would be able to do it within this time and of course, the tightening labour market.
"For the individual contributors, there is now some concern about certain sectors where Singaporeans are reluctant to join. They may have problems with a tight labour market; there may not be enough workers there. Some are actually worried about the long—term vibrancy of the Singapore economy."
She added: "All the feedback will be collated and channelled to the Ministry of Finance, as well as the relevant ministries for the different issues the ministries are in charge of. And this exercise is ongoing all the time. With this budget that has been announced, the government will have to look at how to implement, fine—tune some of the implementation details, as well as take this into account in future, in Budget 2014."
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