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GST hike, employment opportunities: 5 key takeaways from pre-Budget 2022 engagement

There is more than just the GST Vouchers to look forward to at the Budget 2022.

Edwin Chan
Edwin Chan

I like my pineapples on pizzas, and put my cereal before milk.


Published: 22 January 2022, 10:50 AM

This year’s budget statement will focus on three main themes: preparing Singapore for a greener and more sustainable future, thriving in a post-COVID world, and strengthening our social compact to build a fairer and more inclusive home for all.

With the Budget statement, which will be held on Feb 18, just weeks away, Second Minister for Finance Indranee Rajah and Young NTUC committee chairperson Azri Zulfarhan shared more on what to expect through a pre-Budget engagement session.

Here are five key takeaways from the hour-long Instagram Live hosted by Joel Lim on Jan 22.

1. Building a greener and more sustainable Singapore

Ms Indranee recognised that there is an urgent need to address the topic of sustainability due to climate change. This is especially important to a country like Singapore, where resources are scarce. 

While the Government has taken steps to address environmental issues through projects such as the SG Green Plan, the efforts do not just stop there.

“This year’s Budget is going to pick up on that theme (of sustainability), and think about more of what we can do to make sure that Singapore remains sustainable going forward,” Ms Indranee shared.

On top of Governmental efforts, Azri believes that the youth of Singapore can also play their part in building a sustainable Singapore. He acknowledged that many young people are already actively involved in recycling and upcycling projects, giving things a “new lease of life”.

 

Sustainability and environmental issues have become a key focus in Singapore. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/AMANDA TAN

 

2. Thriving in a post COVID-19 world

There’s been many conversations about adapting to the new normal. But young Singaporeans need to find a way to thrive in the post COVID-19 world, beyond just adapting to the situation, especially in their career. 

Partaking in networking sessions and finding career mentors are some of the ways youth can gain industry-related insights.

He also identified upskilling as a crucial step to take if one wishes to remain relevant in their line of work. This can include taking bite-sized courses on online platforms on topics such as FinTech and sustainable spaces, he added. 

Young entrepreneurs can also turn to Enterprise Singapore should they require support. 

“That’s the agency that has a whole slew of programmes and initiatives to help businesses. Specifically for young entrepreneurs… the Government has schemes like Startup SG Equity,” said Ms Indranee.

3. Creating an employee-centric job environment

With a recovering economy, Singaporeans can likely expect more employment opportunities to surface. An example would be the possible new demand for expertise in the green industries.

However, the pandemic also saw many people around the world resigning from their jobs, including Singaporeans. Ms Indranee thinks that this could be attributed to employees finding a lack of fulfilment at their jobs. 

While the Government has pushed out schemes such as the SG United Traineeships to help businesses with recruitment, Ms Indranee believes that employers are still responsible for retaining employees.

Ensuring that the workflow and work culture are employee-friendly and listening to employees’ inputs are some of the additional steps companies can take, she added.

 

More employment opportunities are expected to surface as our economy recovers. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/NOREEN SHAZREEN

 

4. GST hike is necessary, but measures are in place to cushion impact

Plans to raise the Goods and Services Tax (GST) from 7 to 9 per cent between 2021 and 2025 were first announced in 2018. However, due to the pandemic, it was later announced that proposed increase will be pushed back to between 2022 and 2025.

Joel, on behalf of many Singaporeans, posed the question of why there is a need for a GST hike to begin with. 

Ms Indranee explained that the GST is one source of income that helps ensure that Singapore has a balanced revenue and expenditure. This is in view of a projected increase in expenditure.

“By 2030, about 25 per cent of our population is going to be aged 65 and above. As you get older, you will have more healthcare needs.

“We anticipate that our healthcare (expenditure) increase will be about 0.8 per cent of the GDP. Whereas, if you have a 2 per cent increase in GST, that’s 0.7 per cent of GDP. So even with the GST increase, we probably wouldn’t be able to cover the expected expenditure just for healthcare alone,” she added.

However, even with the impending GST hike, the Government will have measures in place to cushion its impact. Some examples of these measures include the GST Vouchers, and subsidies for public healthcare and education. 

According to Ms Indranee, these measures should help cushion the impact of the hike by about “five years for the middle income” families and “10 years for the lower income” families.

 

While the GST hike is imminent, there will be measures designed to help the middle and low income families cushion the impact. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/CALEB LAU

 

5. Strengthening our social compact

While the government will continue to roll out vouchers and schemes to support the lower income groups, there is more that the youth can do to support the vulnerable.

Azri suggested that youths can volunteer their time through youth chapters or organisations such as PAYM, Youth Corps Singapore and Young NTUC to reach out to those in need. 

“For the youths, we should not underestimate ourselves, because we do have the capabilities to enable change in our own (ways),” he said.

To wrap up the session, Ms Indranee shared that Budget 2022 aims to help Singaporeans “stabilise but (is also) much more forward looking” as compared to the last Budget.

The Budget 2022 statement will be delivered by Finance Minister Lawrence Wong on Feb 18. You can find out more here.

To learn more about what Singaporean youths are talking about, head over to the Converse page!


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