President Tony Tan wrote on his Facebook page that he has given his assent to the Supply Bill 2017 on Thursday morning (16 March), writing that he is heartened that Budget 2017 is a "future-oriented Budget" and confident that with this right spirit, "we can progress as a nation and move forward together as a people."
The President said that his assent to this Bill is the final step in the approval process of the Government’s proposal for Budget 2017, adding that the Supply Act will authorise the government expenditures proposed in Budget 2017, which had been extensively debated in Parliament over the past three weeks.
President Tan said that the Elected President’s discretionary power in the supply process is unique to Singapore, provided for in the Constitution, as a constitutional safeguard to ensure that any expenditures drawing on the country's past reserves would need the concurrence of the President.
In exercising this discretionary power, the President said that he has had the benefit of receiving the independent advice of the Council of Presidential Advisers (CPA), which comprises a group of knowledgeable and well-regarded individuals.
"This institution of the Elected Presidency and CPA ensures that Singapore will always adopt a prudent approach to fiscal sustainability and financial discipline when it comes to planning the nation’s budget," he noted.
President Tan said that he was briefed, along with the CPA, by officials from the Ministry of Finance earlier this month, on the details of Budget 2017.
He stated both he and the CPA concur that Budget 2017, after due consideration, and with an expected surplus of S$5.2 billion, was unlikely to draw on Singapore's past reserves.
"I am glad to note that Budget 2017 is about preparing Singapore for the future. It is not a roadmap with defined checkpoints, but more like a compass to help us navigate the uncertainties ahead," he wrote.
The President said the future of the country is unpredictable and bound to be more challenging, adding that countries across the world are adopting a more insular approach.
"If translated to protectionist actions, this approach will impact the global economy, slow trade and investments. As a nation, we must prepare ourselves for this future of change." he said.
The President stressed that Budget 2017 reinforces the need for Singaporeans to continue building capabilities and strengthening the partnerships among public, private and people sectors.
"We have to come together as one nation, create synergies and forge a better future for all. Technology continues to be the catalyst for growth, and we must equip our companies and our people so that they are able to readily embrace technology and ride this wave to springboard to greater growth," the President wrote.
"As we look into our needs today, we must also not forget to build a home for ourselves and future generations of Singaporeans. Budget 2017 is also about ploughing resources back to other important areas, so that our children and children’s children can continue to live in a quality environment and a caring, cohesive society," he added.