Singapore To Spend More, Curb Foreign Workers

Singapore plans to boost spending on offering quality health care for its geriatric population, as well as provide citizens a tax rebate. It is also planning on tightening restrictions on foreign workers before the upcoming elections.

According to Heng Swee Keat, the Finance Minister at the Parliament on Monday, the Singapore government has projected an overall budget deficit of 0.7 percent of GDP in the year which will end in March 2020, compared to the revised surplus of 0.4 percent in the current year.  Authorities are attempting to strike a perfect balance before the upcoming elections by boosting the economy that has been affected by the weak global demand. They also plan on offering better health care facilities for elderly citizens while sticking to fiscal prudence at the same time. The budget has come out during a weakening economy where growth is begin affected by global trade worries.

According to Barnabas Gan, an economist at United Overseas Bank Ltd, Singapore needs to be preemptive. Since it is a small nation, there is a greater need for expenditure on health care, especially for the elderly population. It is more about being prepared for the next decade.  Heng outlined several essential points in his budget speech. He mentioned that about thirty percent of the budget would probably be spent on security, the defense as well as diplomacy efforts.

In an attempt to boost productivity in the retail and food sector as well reduce the dependency on foreign workers at the same time, the government plans to reduce quotas for foreign workers in the service sectors from 2020 onwards. Certain grafts have been extended for the next three years to help businesses adjust to the new policies and offer training to Singaporean workers.

In an attempt to create a highly skilled technology industry and workforce, the Singaporean government has outlined some measures that support small businesses and start-ups in going digital. This includes the innovation Agents program that will allow professionals from the industry to serve as mentors to firms on a 2-year basis. The government is also planning to allocate $100 million to help Singaporean firms scale up and create a stronger presence abroad.

Heng also announced an $8 billion support package that will be used for setting up better health care facilities for the aging population.  The budget also made provision for consumer handouts with lower income Singaporeans being eligible for more cash and benefit from personal income tax rebate.

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