ST: Singaporeans from older folk and young people give thumbs-up to budget

After the Budget 2019 announcement by Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat yesterday (18 Feb), ST wrote an article today saying that Singaporeans from older folk to young people are giving the thumbs-up to the budget (‘Budget gets thumbs-up from older folk and young people‘, 19 Feb).

Yesterday, Minister Heng announced the $1.1 billion “feel good” Bicentennial Bonus for Singaporeans. Some 1.4 million lower-income Singaporeans, or about 40% of total 3.4 million Singaporeans, will receive up to $300 in GST Voucher cash payouts.

ST interviewed National Council of Social Service president Anita Fam, who said that this is “very significant” and was “heartened by the generosity” of the Budget.

With regard to Heng’s announcement of the $200 million Bicentennial Community Fund which is supposed to encourage Singaporeans to donate more to charities, Ms Fam said she hopes this will spur Singaporeans to donate more.

The budget also enables the Merdeka Generation (born between 1950 and 1959) to get more subsidies for outpatient care and additional MediShield Life premium subsidies.

Retiree Karin Tan, 64, told ST that she is “very happy” with the package. “I am currently already retired, and do not draw any income. This will help subsidise my medical costs,” she said.

Another Merdeka Generation member, Ameerali Abdeali, praised the government, “I appreciate the recognition and validation that members of my generation are being given for our contributions to the country.”

ST says young Singaporeans also welcome Govt budget

ST said that the young people it spoke to, welcomed the announcement that the Government will invest in long-term plans to protect Singapore from the effects of global warming. Heng had announced a carbon tax on this year’s emissions and would later launch the Zero Waste Masterplan.

Undergraduate Arjun Dhar told ST, “We are a city with the highest greenery density in the world, in which otters live in the middle of our central business district.”

“As we reflect on the Bicentennial, Singapore should also look to inculcate in all individuals a sense of care for the planet that nurtures us. This means replacing the idea that we are too small to make a difference with the idea that we each have a responsibility to try,” he said.

Ms Pamela Low, 24, a member of the Singapore Youth for Climate Action also told ST in the interview, “The Government eagerly investing in infrastructure to mitigate rising tides and sharing about it at the Budget shows the urgency of addressing the impact of climate change on the national agenda as it would become costlier in the future.”

It’s not known if Mr Arjun and Ms Low are aware that young graduates are increasingly finding it difficult to get full-time employment, while they applaud the Govt’s budget.

According to annual surveys of new graduates from National University of Singapore , Nanyang Technological University and Singapore Management University, only 78.4 per cent of their graduates in 2017 managed to secure full-time permanent employment six months after their final examinations. This figure was the lowest in 10 years, down from 89.8 per cent in 2007.

And for those graduates studying humanities or some science courses such as chemistry, the figure dropped further to about 50-60 per cent. For those from private schools offering degrees, the drop was even more drastic, with the rate falling to 47.4 per cent in 2017 from 60.1 per cent in 2016.

A human resource specialist whom TOC spoke with shared that many companies now opt to hire Employment Pass holders if they could instead of locals because of the CPF component of the local and the foreign workers would hardly complain if they are mistreated because of the desire to stay on in the country.

In any case, ST did not appear to bother interviewing those PMETs currently driving Grab cars for their article.