Budget 2020: Let's Talk About Our Future Together
What comes to mind when you hear ‘The Budget’?
A wishlist of red packets and bonuses from the Government? More than that, the Budget conveys our republic’s national priorities and how limited resources will be allocated.
As a young person, you can play an important role in shaping Singapore’s process. Lend your voice on topics that concern youth.
Create the future you want to see by taking action together with other young people, the community and the Government.
18th January 2020: ‘Let’s Talk About our Future, Together’ Pre-Budget conversations
Around 260 youths engaged in a Pre-Budget conversation with Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) Heng Swee Keat, Minister Grace Fu, Senior Ministers of State, Janil Puthucheary and Sim Ann, and Senior Parliamentary Secretaries Amrin Amin and Tan Wu Meng.
DPM Heng and Minister Fu kicked off the event by sharing the Government’s shift from one that focuses primarily on working for the people, to one that also works with the people. Youths then moved into four breakout venues to explore opportunities to work together with each other, the Government or the society to address issues that are important to them.
Following the breakout discussions, young people and political office holders (POHs) convened to share their insights from each breakout session with the rest and to engage the POHs in a panel dialogue, here’s what we discussed during the breakout discussions: For the unedited inputs from the participants, click here to delve deep.
JOBS & THE FUTURE OF WORK
“The job market problem with jobs and economy is not with ‘insufficient jobs’ but more about finding a matching job for each individual.”
Passion vs Stability – On the general impression that passion and stability are mutually exclusive, youths expressed their hope to find stability while pursuing their passion. However, youths also noted that the longevity and stability of jobs are becoming more and more short-lived due to the ever-changing nature of work, and raised the need for continual up-skilling. This could come in the form of meaningful internships to learn about relevant industries, localised placement opportunities and overseas exposure or postings in the region to broaden their horizons and open doors to more opportunities.
Redefining Success – Young people today are taking more risks, whether by choice or by circumstance and are making the best out of it. As more young people opt for less conventional pathways, they want to be able to shape a different type of success narrative for themselves with the support of their family and friends.
Workplace Culture – With a shrinking workforce, many youths recognise that this means they will be stretched at work and wish for employers to be more proactive in ensuring a healthy work-life balance for their employees. This could come in the form of better flexible work arrangements and part-time schemes. Another general shift youths hope to see in the workplace is greater receptivity to accommodate the ambitious ideas of our young people who are vocal.
SUPPORT FOR FAMILIES
“Young people may be open to the idea of getting married, but many of us are afraid to start a family. The current policies on education support do not resonate well enough for people to want to start a family, and this is a problem.”
Cost of Housing – Youths expressed their desire to live apart from their families after they get married, but are generally worried that the cost of housing may be beyond their reach. Many shared that they were unaware of the policies and schemes that are in place to make housing more affordable. Some youths also feel that the cost of public homes seems to be catching up with private ones. Beyond providing more assistance to lower- and middle-income families, young people suggested ways to increase financial literacy and sought more awareness and accessibility of support available to them.
Cost of Raising a Family – Young people asked for more Government support and subsidies, especially for low-income families, to defray the increasing costs of raising a family. They also asked for more support for working mothers. Youths are especially worried about the availability and accessibility of childcare centres. They also shared that they hope for more and better-trained early childhood educators.
Balancing Work and Family – Youths are aspirational and have high hopes for their careers. Yet, they do not wish to sacrifice family for careers or hobbies, and vice versa. Young people shared that having shorter working hours with flexible arrangements, as well as a more supportive work environment will help more young couples to balance their career and family aspirations. They saw how trying to balance multiple priorities would likely have an impact on their mental well-being in the long run. Thus, youths explored creative solutions – such as community void decks where parents in the community take turns to babysit – to manage this polarity.
SUPPORT FOR AGEING POPULATION
Sandwich Generation – With an ageing population, many youths believe that they would be put in a difficult position juggling between their own priorities, and caring for their children and elderly parents. They reflected on the need to start honest conversations on retirement planning now, in order to create a safety net for their parents and themselves so that their children will not be caught in a similar situation.
Caring for Aged Parents – Young people want to take care of their parents like how they would like to be treated in their old age. Anticipating that caring for their elderly parents while navigating a job and raising young children in the future can be pressuring, young people suggested the need for more awareness and education campaigns to teach them how to take care of the elderly, whether their own family members or others. Youths also asked for support for caregivers should be bolstered further.
Promoting Active Ageing – Young people saw promoting active-ageing as a way to reduce the level of care required by seniors as they grow old. Youths noted important roles that the community can play to help seniors to age actively, such as engaging the elderly as mentors for the younger generation or promoting inter-generational bonding through social activities.
Empowering Seniors through Education – In addition to supporting seniors in their golden age, youths felt that more could be done to help ease the older generation in their transition into retirement. Ideas including awareness campaigns on how to use their CPF and programmes on early retirement planning and financial literacy were brought up. Youths also mooted various ideas to help the older generation to learn digital skills to help seniors bridge the digital divide with the young generation.
ENVIRONMENT & SUSTAINABILITY
“The main challenge [for environmental sustainability] lies in changing the habits of people who had depended heavily on disposables for decades.”
Need for ‘Meaningful Awareness’ – While most Singaporeans are aware of the importance of environmental sustainability, participants explored the disconnect between awareness and action. Participants suggested the need for shifts in how we do awareness campaigns, environmental education and incentive/disincentive frameworks. Youths also suggested inculcating environmental literacy from young, through curriculum, workshops and other creative modalities such as games to impart relevant knowledge and encourage eco-friendly behaviour in children from a young age.
Economy vs Environment – While there is a perceived conflict of interest between environmental sustainability and economic growth, youths discussed possible ways to develop a circular economy to balance both sides and solutions that can achieve both without trade-offs. Youth also saw the opportunity for Singapore to step up as a leader to champion the environmental sustainability on an international forum, leading to the development of a “green” industry in Singapore and the creation of “green” jobs.
Tackling Over-consumption and Wastage – To tackle over-consumption, youths emphasised that it is essential to reduce, reuse and recycle. At the individual-level, youths pointed out the need to encourage individuals to consciously weigh one’s wants and needs, and hence, reduce the demand of items such as handphones and consumption of food. To reduce overproduction, youths proposed introducing more disincentives, such as fines, to keep the overproduction of food and food waste in check. Specifically, entities such as hotels and sports events were mentioned. On recycling, youth discussed that more needs to be done to ensure awareness of proper recycling methods, including e-waste, and to make recycling more accessible to all.
Reducing Carbon Footprint – Youths recognised that it is vital to reduce carbon footprint to tackle the problem of climate change. Some felt that the current carbon tax rate is too low, and proposed higher rates to ‘punish’ companies and organisations that produce carbon emissions. The use of fossil fuels for energy was also worrying for the youths and they hoped to see a bigger shift towards renewable energy sources such as solar energy. In addition, some youths also expressed the importance of reducing the reliance and usage of air-conditioning, and suggested incorporating more natural/passive cooling designs to reduce the use of air-conditioning.
18 FEBUARY: UNITY BUDGET 2020
One month from our Pre-Budget discussion, Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) Heng shared plans on how the Government would be allocating the National Budget across different causes. Additionally, on 26 March, 6 April, 26 May and 17 August, DPM Heng further announced supplementary budgets and statements that complement and extends support to address the evolving COVID-19 Situation. We share and update the highlights how it addresses relevant points you raised during the pre-budget discussions.
To learn more about the full summary of budget announcements, click here.
JOBS & THE FUTURE OF WORK
SUPPORT FOR FAMILIES
SUPPORT FOR AGEING POPULATION
ENVIRONMENT & SUSTAINABILITY
SUPPORTING COMMUNITY INITIATIVES
The Pre-Budget talks event held on 18 January discussed a wide-ranging set of topics. Delve deep with us with our reference materials and notes right here, and stay tuned as we regularly update this section as the conversation evolves and progresses!