Following the Budget 2023 debate in Parliament the previous week, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has posted a Facebook post on Feb. 24 recapping the event, and assuring Singaporeans of the government’s continued support.
In the post, he highlighted four areas of concern that the budget covered: cost of living, tax burden, competitiveness, and housing.
PM Lee said that during the Budget, Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong emphasised the governments “unwavering commitment to building a fairer, more inclusive, and more just society.”
PM Lee highlighted the government’s efforts to help Singaporeans cope with inflation.
This includes the introduction of several additional one-off support measures this year, which will see the Assurance Package’s total amount increase by $3 billion.
He also touched on concerns about the tax burdens Singaporeans faced, echoing Wong’s Budget round up speech, by reiterating that Singaporeans faced a “considerably lower” tax burden than most other advanced economies.
Wong also noted that in Singapore that tax distribution was fair and progressive, with the top 20 per cent bearing the heaviest burden in taxes.
“Everyone has a part to play in building Singapore – the better off can contribute more, while those with greater needs will benefit more,” PM Lee added.
PM Lee also brought up the need for Singapore’s economy to remain competitive, such as through upskilling workers.
Wong had spoken about this, noting the competitive and economically hostile global environment that Singapore now faced, while also speaking about the government’s various plans to help Singaporeans make the most of their abilities and aptitudes to retrain and reskill.
He also spoke about the introduction of a Job Skills Integrator, a formalised role that would help stakeholders in economic sectors to achieve better quality training and jobs matches.
On housing concerns
PM Lee went on to touch on housing, currently a hot topic in Singapore.
He reaffirmed the government’s commitment to provide affordable and accessible housing for all Singaporeans.
Additionally, the government is ramping up BTO supply now that the pandemic is over, and has put in place measures to “moderate demand and resale prices”.
However, he cautioned against “rash moves that may destabilise the housing market”.
On Feb. 24, some verbal sparring took place between Wong and Leader of the Opposition Pritam Singh after the former delivered his closing speech.
Wong said in his round-up speech that the fundamental issue facing housing affordability was a supply crunch due to the delays in BTO projects caused by Covid-19.
This topic sparked a debate between Wong and Singh regarding comments made in 2019.
Wong said the Workers’ Party had suggested cutting annual supply of BTO flats to 9,000, but Singh would reply that the comment required context.
PM Lee concluded his post by saying that ultimately “the budget is not just about meeting today’s needs, but also looking after future generations.”
He urged Singaporeans to rally together and continue their support for the government “to take Singapore forward for the many years to come”.
Top image via Lee Hsien Loong/Facebook