Dr Vincent Wijeysingha spelled out the Singapore Democrats’ spending priorities for Singapore for FY2011. He was speaking at a press conference today to launch the SDP’s alternative budget to the Government’s.
Titled Shadow Budget 2011: Empowering the Nation, the 26-page document outlines the party’s programmes for Singapore. It rivals the PAP’s Budget which Minister for Finance Tharman Shanmugaratnam will present in Parliament this Friday.
Dr Wijeysingha called for the cost of living in Singapore to be lowered by abolishing the GST for basic foodstuffs and medicines as well as reducing the utility rates and public transport fares.
The Shadow Budget also calls for ‘third sector’ industries to be encouraged to create jobs for Singaporeans. These include the alternative energy fields including bio-fuels, solar and wind power. Also, social enterprises such as international and regional NGOs should be encouraged to set up offices in Singapore as these would yield plentiful and meaningful jobs for Singaporeans.
Likewise, the media industry here should be opened up to international news organisations and this would further create thousands of jobs for Singaporeans.
“Together, these measures would not only create quality jobs for Singaporeans but also propel our economy into a genuinely industrialised one,” Dr Wijeysingha said.
But all this necessitates the judicious control of foreign workers into the country. Dr Wijeysingha said that the Shadow Budget includes funding to establish a commission to implement the Singaporeans First Policy where businesses will required to demonstrate that the skills they want to hire are not available among Singaporeans before they are allowed to employ non-Singaporeans.
Another programme proposed in the SDP’s Budget is the revamp of our education system. It proposes reducing teacher : student ratio to 1 : 20, introducing school psychologists and counselors for all schools, developing programmes to nurture creativity among our students, abolishing tuition grants for foreign students, and reducing fees for our local students at the tertiary level.
On medical care, the Singapore Democrats also called for a 25 percent increase in the number of hospital beds to meet the needs of the populace.
Shadow Budget 2011 also increases funding to improve social services for the poor and the elderly to ensure that the weakest of our weak are not left to the ravages of poverty.
At the same time, redundant ministerial posts will be eliminated and ministerial salaries will be reduced. This will produce a cost savings of $30 million that will be allocated to other sectors for more productive use.
On defence spending, the Shadow Budget recommends a minumum wage of $1,200 a month as basic allowance for full-time NSmen as they should not be exploited as cheap labour. In this day and age where the Government thinks nothing of paying top dollar for talent, it is unconscionable to exploit these servicemen by not paying them a fair and living wage.
SDP Assistant Secretary-General John Tan pointed out that the programmes proposed in the Shadow Budget did not need huge additional funding. While Government’s 2010 Budget was $45 billion, total expenditure for the SDP’s proposal was $46 billion.
“We did not even have to factor in the 4.6 percent inflation in our budget,” Mr Tan said, “all we did was to re-allocate the funding areas.
“Our re-prioritized spending is to benefit the people rather than the PAP.”
SDP Shadow Budget 2011: Empowering the Nation will be available soon.