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2014: An S$8 billion thank you to pioneers
SINGAPORE experienced disruption on a number of fronts in 2014. Lawmakers took on rising healthcare costs and stretched public transportation with with a number of new measures. In Singapore's capital markets, the disruptions were more literal, with outages frustrating traders.
The rising costs of living in Singapore, a weak investment returns environment and the desire to show appreciation for those who built the nation in its early years culminated in the Pioneer Generation Package.
The package, which provides healthcare subsidies for the rest of the pioneers' lives, was seen as an important piece of assistance from the government to help a vulnerable segment of the population. To ensure that the programme will be funded for as long as it is required, the government set aside S$8 billion in the budget.
Combined with reforms such as Medishield Life, the Pioneer Generation Package was one of the foundation pieces of policy enacted to address climbing healthcare costs.
A power supply issue shut down the Singapore Exchange's securities and derivatives trading systems for a few hours in November 2014, the first of what would be five major disruptions over the next two years. The incident sparked a board-level review and raised questions about the market operator's operational robustness and reputation. After another outage in 2016, an industry-wide working group has been formed to look into how to improve the continuity of market operations.
Singapore's public bus transportation system underwent a major restructuring amid service providers' struggles with trying to stay profitable while footing the costs related with higher levels of service. Under the new system, the government would own all infrastructure and assets, including buses, while the private service providers would simply earn fees from running and maintaining the routes. The restructuring also led to the breaking of the duopoly that had long been held by Comfort DelGro and SMRT Corp.
The Business Times has been there to report and analyse the most significant news since 1976. Every week, this feature will showcase excerpts from the biggest stories for each year that the paper has been in operation. The full text of all the stories can be found online at bt.sg/bt_40