The Singapore Budget 2016 was announced on the 24th of March 2016 by Finance Minister, Heng Swee Keat.
Below is a simple view of the budget (please click here to download high resolution version):
Some have claimed that this budget represents a ‘game plan for the next 50 years’ but my view is that this is a very functional budget that sets out a 5-year planning approach.
The budget itself can be split across five areas: support for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs); Economic Transformation; Social support; Infrastructure Investment; and Individual Taxation.
The main focus of the budget has been primarily around partnership (particularly between government and industry), internationalisation (and support for companies that seek to establish Singapore as a trusted brand) and a transformation of the economy, towards greater efficiency and focus on high value drivers.
Theme of the 2016 Budget: Clarity, Consistency and Compassion
The aims of the government seems to be very much around providing clarity to businesses across a number of areas (from finding relevant grants, to addressing their pressing issues and providing them with the right information to ensure their alignment to the government’s wider aims).
There is also significant consistency with previous policies and measures and little deviation to what has already been established. This includes buttressing of existing policies around SkillsFuture or other social policies.
It is the final theme of compassion that strikes me the most. There is a tacit acknowledgement that social mobility is a critical matter that needs to be addressed urgently. The Deputy Finance Minister in a speech has indicated as much.
Looking at the slew of social-focused policies and support pillars designed to help the underprivileged and support social mobility is important as Singapore enters her 51st year.
Income disparity and social mobility remain the biggest threat to our social systems and to any country’s progress. Putting into place the pillars to enhance mobility is an important investment to ensure the harmonious development of society and nation.
One area that could have been addressed in more detail is the impact of climate change and the government’s wider approach to addressing this important area – particularly given the severe consequences this has on Singapore. In time to come, I suspect, governments around the world will start devoting more of the government budget and resources towards addressing this and report on the developments.
The government touched on tax rebates for companies for CSR practices. I hope over time this extends to wider sustainability measures adopted by companies to reduce their carbon footprint.
Big Data and Planning
Another interesting development is the development of the National Trade Platform (NTP) that seeks to integrate all business and finance data of companies. This is going to support the predictive ability of the government in understanding the various levers of economy and also develop more timely and appropriate interventions to support businesses. If done right, the type of data and the insights gained from this initiative could be hugely influential and something other nations will sit up and take note of in order to have a better handle on their wider economic affairs.