Feb 25, 2013

Singapore - S'pore's Budget 2013 likely to address raising costs and manpower crunch

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SINGAPORE: Singapore's Budget for the financial year starting 1 April 2013 will be tabled in Parliament on Monday by Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam.

Economists and Members of Parliament that Channel NewsAsia spoke to expect the financial policy statement to address the concerns of two groups of people - the man on the street who is concerned about rising costs and companies who need help in easing their manpower shortage.

The Budget comes just after Singapore clocked a 1.3 per cent growth in its economy for 2012; the Ministry of Trade and Industry has forecast a growth of one to three per cent for 2013.

Citizens are largely concerned about the cost of living as well as the plight of low-income Singaporeans, who are particularly affected by rising costs.

Political watchers expect the Budget to address the concerns of low-income Singaporeans with schemes like Workfare; the Ministry of Manpower has been reviewing the Workfare scheme over the past year and an announcement on the completion of this review is likely during the Budget session.

Another key concern of the Singapore government is the slow pace of productivity improvements amongst companies.

The Ministry of Trade and Industry revealed on Friday that labour productivity fell by 2.6 per cent in 2012, a reversal from the growth of 1.3 per cent in 2011.

More schemes encouraging companies to increase productivity and rely less on foreign labour is expected to be announced during the Budget session.

Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam's speech will be carried "live" on Channel NewsAsia at 3.30pm on Monday. Mr Tharman will also be on a panel to discuss the Budget on Channel NewsAsia at 8pm. A special one-hour programme on the Budget will be aired after that at 10pm.

- CNA/jc

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