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Singapore Budget Debate: Workforce and enterprise matters in focus
The issues of manpower, Central Provident Fund (CPF) prospects and enterprise dominated Parliament on Monday, as the Ministry of Manpower, Ministry of Trade and Industry and Ministry of Finance held their respective Committee of Supply debates.
In Parliament, Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin warned that Singapore's labour market will tighten further, with local workforce growth slowing significantly in the second half of this decade. The growth of the foreign workforce will also be maintained at the current tight pace, he added.
According to Mr Tan, businesses will need to adapt to this new reality of a tight labour market, make fundamental changes to raise productivity and be more manpower-lean.
On the employee end of things, the retirement picture for young Singaporeans is "healthy", Mr Tan said on Monday. According to him, Singaporeans who work regularly and make prudent housing choices should have no worries meeting their retirement needs.
In the future, employees might be able to lengthen their time in the workplace. According to Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for Manpower, the government is putting in place legislation to extend the age of re-employment to 67, in two or three years' time. The statutory minimum age of retirement in Singapore is currently 62, with employers required to offer re-employment to eligible employees up to the age of 65.
On the enterprise front, Minister of State for Trade and Industry Teo Ser Luck announced two projects aimed at small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) during the ministry's committee of supply debate. These two projects come in the form of common platforms - one for e-commerce and another for human resources - and will allow SMEs to share resources and streamline their own processes.
Where taxes are concerned, Senior Minister of State for Transport and Finance Josephine Teo told Parliament on Monday that the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore will keep a close eye on tax evasion by monitoring the trend of 'corporatisation' amongst high-income earners.