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No goodies in SDP’s Shadow Budget – CSJ

The Singapore Democratic Party’s (SDP) Shadow Budget is ‘bereft of goodies’, said SDP chief Dr Chee Soon Juan at a press conference to launch the party’s alternative to the Government’s Budget, which will be announced this Friday.

Dr Chee was referring to the possible increase in government subsidies meant to help the poor and tackle the rising costs of living.

“Goodies are to sweeten the poison,” Dr Chee added. “It is especially dangerous for the Government to come up with sweeteners prior to the elections.” He contended that the ‘goodies’ served as distractions to the needs of the people.

According to Dr Chee, the Government Budgets had been to serve the interests of the Government and not the needs of the people.

“The real needs are never taken care of,” he said.

Dr Chee gave a few examples of the effects of the ‘misallocation’ of expenditure; a widening income gap, low productivity, elderly continuing to do ‘back-breaking work’, HDB flats priced out of reach of young couples, and more Singaporeans going across the causeway to seek cheaper medical treatment.

Instead of offering goodies, the SDP’s Shadow Budget will instead serve the long term needs of the people while not ‘blowing a hole in the reserves’.

“The Budget is a significant reorientation of the resources,” added Dr Vincent Wijeysingha.

Dr Wijeysingha who holds a PHD in Social Policy, said that the Shadow Budget would focus on productivity, sustainability and the market of future through:

  • developing home-grown industries
  • improving the education system to one that enables children to think laterally
  • a tolerance for exploration and failure
  • creating a more democratic workplace structure and flatter hierarchies
  • enabling a workforce equipped with creative thinking skills

More resources could be also be channeled to the promotion of Singapore brands in the global markets rather than the promotion of the ‘essentially meaningless’ Singapore Brand, added Dr Wijeysingha.

Dr Wijeyasingha also introduced a “Singaporeans First Policy “in manpower management. He elaborated, “An employer looking to hire a foreigner will need to demonstrate that he has exhausted all other options (in looking for a Singaporean to do the job).”

Other measures in the Shadow Budget include:

  • Introduction of a graduated GST. It will range from zero-rated basic goods and services to a maximum of 10% for luxury goods.
  • Removing the Cabinet positions of Minister Mentor, Senior Minister and Minister without Portfolio
  • Freezing of public transport fees at 2010 levels until 2015.

One of the questions raised during the press conference was whether the Shadow Budget would allow for high economic growth.

“It’s a development budget,” said Dr Chee. “We are investing in the people. Economic growth will come as a result.”

The SDP's Shadow Budget is now available for download here.