Singapore Budget 2013 – Let’s talk

Like many people last week I caught a glimpse of Obama’s State of the Union address.

 

One key aspect that really stood out for me was the announcement of the country’s budget priorities: “(…) let’s set party interests aside, and work to pass a budget that replaces reckless cuts with smart savings and wise investments in our future. And let’s do it without the brinkmanship that stresses consumers and scares off investors”.

 

As stated throughout the speech, Obama’s administration will have to make some tough choices over the next few years, but the key pillars of healthcare, education, defence, and labour policies will remain a priority.

 

What’s interesting to note is that Singaporeans have the same priorities except we have way more available funds, much less debt, a smaller population, and we’re not involved in any wars abroad.

 

So how come some people here feel like they’re increasingly struggling to make a living?

 

I think this is a pretty relevant question to ask, especially since Singapore will be defining its own 2013 budget in less than a couple of weeks!

 

What will our priorities be this year, and how will they affect the problems we’re all having on a daily basis?

 

Based on the few sneak peeks that have surfaced, I’d say the top priority will be helping businesses thrive.

 

There’s nothing wrong with that in and of itself, as Singapore’s entire livelihood rests on the success of businesses.

 

But then when or how will our main concerns be addressed?

 

It almost seems as if on the one hand we are told our complaints are heard while on the other hand when the time comes to divide the actual funds that will help address our needs, businesses come first…

 

And this is considering the fact that even the businesses themselves recognise the need for growth and prosperity to be equally shared for workers – and society as a whole – to remain satisfied.

 

Perhaps this year a large share of the budget could be used for an area titled “social prosperity”.

 

This area would cover a wide range of things we truly need, from transport and housing to wages and jobs, and would focus all government efforts in allowing the population to reap the fruits of all those years spent working hard to make Singapore what it is today.

 

I’m not an economist or a policy-maker, but I think helping people feel less put against one another would not only alleviate tensions, it would reinforce social harmony.

 

After all, aren’t more and more specialists agreeing that GDP is no longer a reliable indicator of a society’s health?

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Najib A.

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