A. The Future Beyond SG50: New World, New Challenges
A.1. Madam Speaker, I beg to move, that Parliament approves the financial policy of the Government for the Financial Year 1st April 2016 to 31st March 2017.
We Have Come a Long Way
A.2. Last year, we celebrated all that we achieved together in our first 50 years. This year, we start our journey for the next 50 years.
A.3. Our first 50 years tell an extraordinary story of diverse people overcoming great odds together.
a. Our pioneers had no textbook for success. Every move – whether it was a government policy, a company’s investment, or a household’s family decision – was uncharted.
b. Through sheer grit, our pioneers braved the odds, brought up families, and built a home and a nation.
A.4. On 13 December 1965, Mr Lim Kim San presented the first Budget of the independent Republic of Singapore.
A.5. This was the world on that day.
a. The major concerns then were: Konfrontasi, the Communist threat and the Vietnam War.
b. Few in the world paid attention to little Singapore. Against this backdrop, our pioneers debated how to make a living, by making our place in this region and in the world.
We Face New Challenges
A.6. In that first Budget, Mr Lim said: “Whilst independence has… given us greater freedom of action …, we also acquire new responsibilities and new dimensions are added to our problems.”
A.7. Our pioneers took on these new responsibilities and new dimensions seriously. Our founding Prime Minister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, made the rousing call that we must never fear; one day we would be a modern metropolis. Singaporeans rallied to that call. Year by year, we made progress; and successive generations built on what was achieved. So we had much to celebrate in SG50.
A.8. Today, we are in a much better position than our pioneers. But we also face new responsibilities, new challenges.
A.9. In 1965, we raced to teach “123s” and “ABCs” to our young, and to create factory jobs to soak up unemployment for a young population. Today, over 95% of our students progress beyond secondary school. Our challenge now is to take education beyond schools, to lifelong learning, and to grow the economy to create quality jobs.
A.10. In 1965, we were fighting childhood mortality with mass immunisation, and distributing milk to under-nourished children. Today, the problem has flipped. Our challenge is to find new ways to care for our elderly, to manage chronic diseases and to tackle childhood obesity.
A.11. In 1965, we were faced with Konfrontasi and the Vietnam War, and were at risk of social discord stemming from a legacy of racial conflict and pro-communism. Today, we have to guard ourselves against a more complex and diverse array of threats, from conventional threats to terrorism and cyber warfare.
A.12. Mr Lim Kim San’s words 50 years ago resonate to this day.
a. We face a new world that brings its own freedoms and responsibilities, its own challenges.
b. Our mission remains unchanged – it is to find the ways to create opportunities for Singaporeans to grow, and defend our home and our people.
c. Taking inspiration from our pioneers, we must plan ahead, stay united, be creative, and build our future together.
Our Priorities to Meet these Challenges
A.13. This is the context in which President Tony Tan set out five key aims for this term of Government:
a. Renewing our economy;
b. Fostering a more caring society;
c. Transforming our urban landscape;
d. Keeping Singapore safe and secure;
e. Engaging and partnering with Singaporeans in nation building.
A.14. To achieve these goals, we must grow our economy and invest collectively for the long term – in our people, our home, our security.
a. To grow our economy, we will invest in building stronger enterprises and nurturing innovative industries.
b. For our people, we will invest in education and health.
i. Our spending on education in FY16 is expected to be $12.8 billion, almost double what it was 10 years ago1. We must continue investing in our people through education and SkillsFuture.
ii. Compared to a decade ago, our healthcare spending has increased almost six-fold to $11 billion2. This will rise further. Now, 1 in 8 Singaporeans is aged 65 and above. This will rise to 1 in 6 by 2020, and 1 in 4 by 2030.
c. For our home, we must invest for better liveability and connectivity.
i. This year, our transport spending is expected to hit $10.1 billion – more than five times what we spent a decade ago3.
ii. At the same time, we are embarking on new infrastructure of unprecedented scale, such as Changi Airport Terminal 5.
d. For our security, we will also have to invest more in intelligence, operational capabilities, technology and systems to keep our home safe and secure.
A.15. All these translate into higher spending needs. Our expenditures have grown to almost two and a half times of what they were 10 years ago. We were able to fund these increased investments because we had planned ahead and remained prudent. Growth had also been fairly strong as our GDP almost doubled over the past decade.
A.16. In this term, we are starting from a position of strength, as we have anticipated our needs and made provisions in the last term. We have no natural resources, no oil wells, but we benefit significantly from the returns of the reserves accumulated by our forefathers through hard work and thrift. We must continue to strike a careful balance between what we spend today, and what we save for future generations.
A.17. In the longer term, to meet Singapore’s many needs, especially in healthcare, our expenditures will grow. But GDP growth will slow as our economy and workforce mature. We will find ourselves in a tighter fiscal position.
A.18. We must plan ahead. We must grow our capabilities in order to grow our economy and create good jobs for our people. We must remain prudent in our expenditures, and ensure every additional dollar spent is spent responsibly. We must encourage every Singaporean to contribute towards caring for our fellow citizens and building for the future.
A Spirit of Partnership for our New Chapter
A.19. Much work lies ahead. I am confident that if we have the will, we will find the way.
A.20. Core for us to succeed is the spirit of partnership, where Singaporeans work together in new ways to transform our economy and strengthen our society.
A.21. We have inherited a strong spirit of togetherness from our kampong days. Over the years, it has taken on new forms and new vitality, from the shared values of Our Singapore Conversation, to the ground-up active citizenry of SG50, to the collective commitment in The Future of Us and SGfuture.
A.22. Going forward, this partnership that is at the heart of the Singapore spirit will become even more critical for tackling big challenges together.
A.23. Everyone has a role, and together, we are weaving a rich tapestry – each thread a different colour and texture, but woven together to give strength and resilience to our economy and our society.
A.24. We must come together as partners to transform our economy through enterprise and deeper innovation. The global economy is becoming more interconnected, more diverse and complex. Change is accelerating, with rapid advances in knowledge and technology. Yet the potential for collaboration has never been greater. We must work together to muster our resources, to innovate, scale up and internationalise. Our economic transformation will draw on the strengths of individual schemes, businesses, unions and trade associations, but bring everyone together in a more tightly woven tapestry to meet the specific needs of our industries.
A.25. Likewise, we must deepen partnerships to build a caring and resilient society. Over the last decade, the Government has stepped up social support significantly. But we must continue to build both individual and collective responsibility, for it is together that they make for a stronger society. In our next phase, we will strengthen partnerships with community groups to build a rich tapestry of caring communities in all our neighbourhoods, with multiple layers of support, drawing on different threads of care and kindness, but integrated coherently.
A.26. Leading up to this Budget, we received thousands of suggestions and feedback. Let me thank all who have contributed.
A.27. Budget 2016 is the beginning of a journey towards SG100. With the spirit of partnership, we will transform our economy through enterprise and innovation, and build a caring and resilient society.
Last updated on 24 Mar 2016