Ms Jessica Tan, Chairman of Government Parliamentary Committee for Finance and Trade & Industry
Distinguished panellists and guests
Ladies & gentlemen
Good morning to all of you.
Having just ushered in the Golden Rabbit Year, let me wish everyone a Happy and Prosperous New Year ahead!
ICPAS Research, which organised the ICPAS Pre and Post Budget Roundtable 2010, has once again engaged leaders from the CPA Singapore Community, private sector and business associations through the ICPAS Pre-Budget Roundtable 2011, to provide relevant feedback on Budget matters to the Government.
This morning, I am pleased to co-chair the ICPAS Pre-Budget Roundtable for the second year, with Ms Jessica Tan, Chairman of Government Parliamentary Committee for Finance and Trade & Industry.
The past two years have been a roller-coaster ride for Singapore. In 2009, the Singapore economy contracted by 2.0 per cent. The story for 2010 cannot be more different. The advance GDP estimate for 2010 is a double-digit expansion of 14.7 per cent, in line with MTI’s growth forecast of around 15 per cent for the year.
But, this roller-coaster ride is predicted to slow down in 2011. Prime Minister Lee has said that the stellar 2010 economic growth was the results of "special circumstances" and "unlikely to be repeated soon". Instead, a more moderate GDP growth of between 3 to 5 per cent is expected in the medium term.
At this juncture, I would like to briefly refresh our memory of the Budget for 2010.
The key thrusts of Budget 2010 were:
1.Raising Productivity – An annual sum of $1.1 billion over the next five years has been committed in the form of tax benefits, grants and training subsidies to support the national effort to raise productivity.
2. Growing Globally Competitive Companies – Efforts to help local players grow into globally-competitive companies have been boosted in areas such as capability development, internationalisation and financing.
3.Including All Singaporeans in Growth – $1.4 billion in direct transfers has been spent for household in FY2010. Together with the Workfare Income Supplement (WIS), the total sum transferred to households will be $1.8 billion.
Some of these budget initiatives were well-received. For example, in a recent survey conducted by the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCCI), enterprises have cited that the Workfare Training Scheme (56%), funding to business and trade associations (50%) and Productivity and Innovation Credit (48%) as most useful as they offered the most direct forms of funding to raise productivity and strengthen competitiveness among enterprises.
The focus for Budget 2011 is likely to be similar to that of 2010:
Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean has said that the Government is committed to invest $2.5 billion over the next five years to expand the Continuing Education and Training system and making it industry-driven, leading to win-win outcomes for both employers and workers in the form of successful job placements, productivity enhancement or better goods and delivered.
With all-time low fertility figures making headline news in the beginning of 2011, the Government’s call to raise labour productivity to maintain sustainable economic growth has now spilled over to raising “procreation productivity” to achieve “a sustainable population”. Calling out to our young couples… we need more babies!
Growing Globally Competitive Companies
Another important theme is the development of SMEs. According to International Enterprise Singapore (IE Singapore), 90% of the 8,000 companies which tapped IE’s various assistance programmes for $1.4 billion in loans and $72 million in grants last year were SMEs. IE also facilitated 366 overseas projects by Singapore-based companies last year, compared to 253 in 2009. Increased business missions led by IE have also helped some 66,000 companies explore opportunities abroad last year, which is a 22 per cent rise from 2009.
This morning we are privileged to hear the views of our panellists for Budget 2011. The combined knowledge and expertise of the panellists will make today’s session an informative and interesting one. I would like to once again express my sincere thanks to all panellists present today for sharing their vision for Budget 2011 with us.
Now, I shall invite my co-chair Ms Jessica Tan to say a few words before we kick-start the session. Thank you.