Budget Speech

    INTRODUCTION

  1. Mr Speaker, Sir, I beg to move, that Parliament approves the financial policy of the Government for the Financial Year from 1 April 2019 to 31 March 2020.
  2. Reflections on Our Bicentennial

  3. This year marks 200 years since Sir Stamford Raffles landed in Singapore.
  4. Archaeological finds and records show that Singapore’s history stretches back at least 700 years, serving as a trading emporium in the region.
  5. 1819 was a key turning point in Singapore’s development. The British decision to declare Singapore a free port plugged us into an emerging network of global trade. This, and subsequent developments, transformed Singapore into a global node.
  6. In our bicentennial year, let us reflect on the twists and turns in our history, so as to chart a path forward for an even better future for our people.
  7. Charting Our Path Forward

  8. Today, we are in a different phase of globalisation, with new forces reshaping the global environment.
  9. In last year’s Budget Statement, I mentioned three major shifts:
    1. The shift in global economic weight towards Asia;
    2. Rapid technological advancements;
    3. And changing demographic patterns.
  10. A fourth major force that is gaining prominence is the decline in support for globalisation. Some countries are benefitting from globalisation, while others are questioning its value.
  11. These four major forces are interacting in complex ways, at the global, regional, and national levels.
  12. On the global stage, the trade frictions between the US and China are developing into a deeper strategic competition of strength and of governance systems. This is raising geopolitical uncertainty.
  13. Closer to home, ASEAN has enjoyed over 50 years of peace and stability, with bright economic prospects.
    1. Together, the 10 economies of ASEAN are projected to become the fourth largest in the world by 2030, with the size of the middle class doubling.
    2. Innovation and entrepreneurship are also thriving. In recent years, Southeast Asia has grown several new “unicorns”, or companies with valuations in excess of US$1 billion.
  14. Working together, ASEAN nations can maximise our potential. But, closely connected neighbours will have occasional differences.
    1. A couple of issues have surfaced recently with Malaysia. When such differences occur, Singaporeans must stay united as a people, and present our positions firmly and calmly.
    2. We have worked through difficult bilateral issues with our neighbours in the past, based on mutual respect and common interests, and in accordance with international laws and norms. Singapore will continue to seek to resolve issues in the same spirit.
  15. Domestically, we need to address longer-term challenges, including ageing, social mobility, inequality, economic transformation, and climate change.
  16. Our Strengths and Our Singaporean DNA

  17. The changing global and domestic landscape presents both challenges and opportunities. We will continue to chart our way forward confidently in the Singapore way, building on our distinct strengths and our Singaporean DNA.
    1. We must always respond to challenges with grit and determination.
      1. There were episodes in the centuries of Singapore’s history where our island’s fortunes waned due to external forces.
      2. These are sobering reminders that we have to constantly build up our security and resilience, and plan long-term.
    2. Singapore’s success has roots in our port, which thrives on openness and connectivity. These traits have been forged into our identity as a people.
      1. As a multi-cultural society, our openness to diversity is our strength.
      2. It has inculcated a global mindset and deepened our knowledge of Asia. We must continue to cultivate cross-cultural literacy among our youth, and encourage them to build bridges with peoples across the world.
      3. We strive to be a place where people and ideas congregate, at the frontier of global developments. We want to be a Global-Asia node of technology, innovation and enterprise.
    3. We turn our size and strategic location into an advantage.
      1. Technological shifts have spread economic activities more widely, and at the same time, made cities more important as key nodes of enterprise and innovation.
      2. As a city-state, we are nimbler and can adapt to changes faster.
      3. We serve as a neutral, trusted node in key spheres of global activity.
    4. Like Sang Kancil, the small but quick-witted mousedeer, we can make our way in the world.
  18. Budget 2019 is a strategic plan to allocate resources to build a Strong, United Singapore. In this bicentennial year, let us draw on our strengths, and our Singaporean DNA – openness, multi-culturalism, and self-determination – to continue to progress.
    1. At a fundamental level, we must keep Singapore safe and secure. This allows us to preserve our way of life and forge our own destiny.
    2. We must continue to transform our economy, for only a vibrant and innovative economy can provide opportunities for our people to realise their potential.
    3. We must continue to build a caring and inclusive society, where we look out for one another, and all of us play our part in weaving a tightly-knit social fabric.
    4. We must continue to build Singapore as a global city and home for all, keeping it smart, sustainable, and globally connected.
    5. Last but not least, we must achieve these goals in a responsible and fiscally sustainable way.
  19. We are using our financial resources to help realise our strategies for a strong, united Singapore. But financial resources alone do not get us there. We call on all Singaporeans to partner with the Government, and support one another to succeed in this endeavour.