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Singapore Budget Debate: Preparing to meet evolving needs

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The Singapore parliament heard from the Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Trade and Industry on Friday, as all three tabled plans to meet the evolving needs of the country.

The Ministry of Home Affairs will bulk up spendings from FY2014's 1.1 per cent of nominal gross domestic product (GDP) to about 1.3 per cent of GDP over the coming five-year period.

This will be done in an effort to fight cyber crimes and meet the growing demand for emergency medical services from an aging population, Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean told the parliament on Friday.

The Home Team, which has grown from about 19,300 to 24,700 over the past 10 years, will be beefed up. An additional 2,000 officers will join its ranks over the next five years, according to Mr Teo, who is also the home affairs minister.

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On the education front, the government will spend S$250 million over the next three years on schemes geared toward supporting Singaporean families with the cost of education.

Some 560,000 citizen students will get extra top-ups in their education accounts, according to Education Minister Heng Swee Keat, while those under the Ministry of Education's (MOE) Financial Assistance Scheme will benefit from a new transport subsidy from April 1.

Parliament also heard on Friday about how Singapore's five polytechnics and its Institute of Technical Education will each take charge of a cluster of sectors that have been identified as future growth areas, such as healthcare and aerospace engineering. These education institutions will serve as a way for employers to reach out to students.

The future also featured in the Ministry of Trade and Industry's Committee of Supply debate, with Minister for Trade and Industry Lim Hng Kiang outlining plans that will see the Economic Development Board working with MOE and the Workforce Development Agency. This partnership will focus on encouraging firms to build training capability and expand training capacity so that Singapore's workers have the core skills needed to support future growth.

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