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Dr Vincent Wijeysingha presented the SDP’s third annual Shadow Budget today. He outlined initiativesthat will initiate a much-needed economic and socialtransformation, and raise the quality of life for Singaporeans.$CUT$
Titled Shadow Budget 2013:Transforming Our Capabilities, the document highlights three main areas that would keep the Singaporean economy competitiveand sustainable.
Budget 2013, presented in Parliament byFinance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam on 25 February, does nottackle deep-seated and long-term problems that afflict the Singaporean society. For example, it does not address our over-dependence on cheaplabour.
Also, the Government continues to under spend onhealthcare which puts Singaporeans in a difficult position facing massive medicalbills should they meet with illnesses requiring hospitalisation.
Thirdly, it is likely that measuresaimed at managing high HDB prices will have limited impact.
The SDP’s Shadow Budget, on the other hand, addresses these problems and outlines transformative steps that would restoreSingapore’s comparative advantage as a small but resilient country.
It would enact theSingaporeans First policy under which the government would implementa TalentTrack scheme. Potential foreign workers are vetted on a meritpoint-based system that would include factors such as age, skills andexperience.
The demand for such skills in thevarious industrial sectors would be provided by an Employment VisaCommission comprising ministries, employers, trade unions andprofessional organisations. This measure is described in detail in Housing A People: Sound Policies For a Secure Future.
Only when skills match our economicdemands and businesses demonstrate that locals cannot be found forthe positions will foreign workers be recruited.
Dr Wijeysingha also noted that theShadow Budget will increase the Ministry of Health budget to $6billion, on route to an eventual increase to $10 billion in line withdeveloped nation standards.
He noted that “the SDP sees increasedhealth expenditure an investment in the well-being of the people andworkers as well as expanding the healthcare job sector”.
The funds will be placed in a newly setup National Health Investment Fund while Singaporeans will contributean average of $500 individually (taken from their CPF), depending onone’s income level.
“Medisave will be scrapped and allhealthcare expenditure will then be paid from this single-payersystem, making it universal and affordable,” Dr Wijeysinghaadded.
The SDP Treasurer also outlined theShadow Budget’s initiatives to introduce the Non-Open Market (NOM)scheme for HDB flats.
NOM flats will be built and sold atcost without land price factored in. This will make HDB flatsaffordable but owners will not be allowed to sell them in the openmarket for profit.
“Flat owners who wish to continue inthe open market may still opt to do so,” he explained, adding thatthe formula gives Singaporeans who want cheaper HDB flats an addedchoice while allowing others to continue buying and selling theirflats in the open market.