In the lead up to Budget 2020 (B2020), youths in Singapore were asked for their feedback on key B2020 topics.
About 260 youths participated in a pre-Budget dialogue organised by the National Youth Council (NYC) on Jan 18, where young people got to share their views directly with political office holders.
Thousands more were engaged through online articles and digital polls (more information here).
If you are a Singaporean youth who’s keen to know the policies which are relevant to you, but find it cumbersome to sieve through a 51-page long announcement, this is for you.
Here's how the key policies announced relate to the youth's concerns and suggestions raised during the pre-Budget event on Jan 18.
What youths said & what MOF did with the feedback
1. Job security & the future of work
For young people who are worried about the changing job and economic landscape, and Artificial Intelligence taking over their jobs, DPM Heng announced the following:
- Every Singaporean aged 25 and above will get a SkillsFuture Credit Top-up of S$500 to support Singaporeans in their efforts for continued learning and upskilling
- “70-70 target”, where 70 percent of local graduates from IHLs will have overseas exposure, and 70 percent of this group will take part in internships or visits to cities in ASEAN, China or India
- Asia-ready Exposure Programme will also support young Singaporeans’ visits to cities in ASEAN, China or India through internships, exchange programmes and service learning or study trips
- To support more local workers in their 40s and 50s in career transitions, the capacity of reskilling programmes will be increased
- To encourage employers to hire local job seekers aged 40 and above, a hiring incentive will be given through reskilling programmes
2. Concerns over high cost of living
Youths also expressed their worries about the increasing cost of housing and raising a family in Singapore too. Because adulting can be hard.
For them, DPM Heng announced the following cash transfers:
- S$1.6 million Care and Support Package for households
- A one-off payout of S$300, S$200 or S$100 for Singaporeans aged 21 and above
- Double regular U-Save GST Vouchers for HDB households
He also introduced the following measures during NDR 2019 to help with housing costs and improve support to raise a family:
- Enhanced Housing Grant that allows first-time flat buyers to enjoy up to S$160,000 in housing grant
- Raising of monthly household income ceilings for subsidised flats and executive condos to S$14,000 and S$16,000 respectively
- Doubling of early childhood sector support to over S$2 billion a year (from S$1 billion in 2018)
- Higher bursaries for students in polytechnics and autonomous universities
The following measures were announced in Budget 2020 as well:
- Increase of up to S$200 a year in cash bursary quantum for full-time ITE students
- Enhanced Financial Assistance Scheme, with a S$100 increment in the annual pre-university bursary quantum from S$900 to S$1,000
- Increases in transport and school meal subsidies for all students and secondary school students respectively
3. Concerns over retirement measures
Some might think retirement is a long time away, but it is never too late to plan ahead. Some youths mentioned their concerns about their own retirement.
To help Singaporeans save for retirement, DPM Heng announced the following:
- Matched Retirement Savings Scheme:
- The government will match CPF Retirement Account top-ups dollar-for-dollar, up to an annual cap of S$600, from 2021 to 2025, for lower- to middle-income Singaporeans aged 55 to 70 without the prevailing Basic Retirement Sum
- Silver Support Scheme:
- Increase quarterly cash payouts by 20 percent, from Jan. 1, 2021
- Cash payouts of up to S$900 per quarter
- Broaden eligibility criteria to benefit more seniors
- Top-ups to three funds that provide targeted help for the broader community, including the elderly and lower-income families
- S$750 million to ElderCare Fund
- S$500 million to ComCare Fund
- S$200 million to MediFunf
As for those who want to promote active-ageing as a way to reduce the level of care needed by seniors as they age, DPM Heng introduced the Senior Worker Support Package to support senior employment:
- Senior Employment Credit to provide wage offsets for firms hiring Singaporeans aged 55 and above
- Senior Worker Early Adopter Grant to support enterprises that increase their Retirement and Re-employment Ages ahead of legislated changes
- A Part-Time Re-employment Grant to encourage firms to provide part-time re-employment for older workers
4. Concerns over the environment
For youths who think it’s vital to reduce carbon footprint to tackle global warming, some suggested incorporating more natural or passive cooling designs to reduce the use of air-conditioning.
The following measures were introduced during Budget 2020 to pursue the goal of a sustainable Singapore:
- HDB Green Towns Programme
- All HDB towns to reduce energy consumption and recycle rainwater
- Encourage households to purchase energy-efficient household appliances
- Incentives will be introduced to defray the costs of these appliances for lower-income households adopting them
- To phase out Internal Combustion Engines (ICE) vehicles and have all vehicles run on cleaner energy by 2040
- More incentives to encourage the adoption of cleaner vehicles, including the introduction of an electric vehicle (EV) Early Adoption Incentive of up to 45 percent of the Additional Registration Fee, capped at S$20,000
- MEWR will launch the SG Eco Fund to support partnerships with the community and enterprises in sustainability efforts
To help Singapore “balance the dilemma” that the country faces between economic development and environmental sustainability, the government announced the following:
- NEA to begin a field trial to use NEWSand, made from incineration ash, in road construction along Tanah Merah Coast Road
And finally, in recognising that the public, private and people sectors should work together to address social and community needs, DPM Heng announced the following:
- Top-up to Our Singapore Fund (OSF), with the fund extended beyond 2020 to support more ground-up initiatives that Singaporeans are passionate about
Give your feedback to the government now
These are just some of the feedback that the government received from the public, which was taken into consideration and subsequently incorporated into its policies, the NYC said.
While the next Budget exercise is still some time away, you don’t have to wait that long to see your suggestions materialise as concrete plans.
You can find out more here.
This sponsored piece by the National Youth Council made this writer read through the entire Budget so you can get a summarised version.
Top image by Christopher Polk/Getty Images