Budget Debate: Embrace 'spirit of enterprise and caring', says Heng

SINGAPORE'S continued progress pivots on "the spirit of enterprise and caring", said Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat on Wednesday in his Budget 2016 roundup speech.

This, he said, will keep Singapore true to where it came from, and carry the country through to where it wants to go.

The spirit of enterprise requires Singaporeans to not be held back by what appear to be limitations, and to innovate and seize opportunities instead. The spirit of caring, meanwhile, ensures an environment where everyone helps each other through personal challenges, so that aspirations can be attained.

"We know where we came from. We know where we want to go. And we are committed to moving forward together in partnership, in this spirit of enterprise and caring," said Mr Heng.

In his 1.5-hour long speech, Mr Heng said that he understands the anxieties Singaporeans have about jobs, and stressed that good jobs and incomes in the future cannot be taken for granted.

He therefore emphasised the need for a coherent approach that creates the right jobs, develops the right skills, and enables the right match for Singapore workers.

On the social front, Mr Heng tackled the issue of the personal income tax relief cap, which some have said runs contradictory to encouraging procreation.

Mr Heng said that the move serves to increase progressivity, and leaves the vast majority of taxpayers untouched.

He also said that Budget measures should not be evaluated solely from the individual's perspective, but must be taken holistically and on a longer-term horizon. He highlighted, for instance, the various government support schemes for marriage and parenthood, and said that the National Population and Talent Division (NPTD) will elaborate more on the government's strategy going forward.

"The government must know when to step in, and when to step back," said Mr Heng, calling for Singaporeans to embrace the spirit of enterprise and caring, to augment government support.

For all our Budget 2016 coverage: bt.sg/budget_16

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