“The Government obviously cannot do everything alone and you’re only as good as the feedback you get, so that you can address things specifically and make sure that you meet needs,” said Second Minister for Education and Finance Ms Indranee Rajah.
In an interview with Channel NewsAsia yesterday (2 December), Ms Rajah was asked about the government’s push to get Singaporeans involved in providing feedback on the upcoming budget.
The minister said that it is “very important to tap on an harness the collective great ideas that people have”, pointing to the Singapore Together initiative announced by Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat earlier this year.
She went on to talk about how the global situation affects Singapore and how that informs the upcoming budget.
Ms Rajah said, “you’ve got the global situation as it is, it’s dampening economic sentiment. But at the same time, Singapore has got very solid foundations.”
“So what do you do in a situation like that? You’ve got to make sure that you’re strategic, you’ve got to make sure that with the limited resources we have we have bang for the buck, we do the most good with the resources we have,” she explained.
Ms Rajah went on to say that every budget is a strategic plan which is built on the previous years’ budget.
“So this particular budget is something that we must think about – not just the government but Singaporeans as a whole – how can we use our resources to tackle the challenges ahead building on the strong foundations that we have,” she added.
When asked whether this next budget will be different or just ‘business as usual’, Ms Rajah said it won’t be the latter given the current global situation. She said, “So you’re correct in the sense that the global will require a response from us. But at the same time, we also have to look forward.”
Emphasising a future-focused budget that is also aimed at addressing current needs, Ms Rajah said, “So it’s a kind of, let’s deal with what we have, let’s have a strategic approach using our finances but at the same time, don’t just only look at today. We must also look at tomorrow and position ourselves and see how we’re going to make Singapore of tomorrow grow, flourish, create opportunities for our people.”
Based on the comments section of CNA’s Facebook post of this segment of the interview, netizens are sceptical about the government only reaching out for feedback now given that it is usually announced in mid to late February of each year.
Some said that asking for feedback at this late hour is mere ‘lip service’ and that the government is simply doing it to seem like they care. Other’s pointed out that they’re only asking for feedback because elections are around the corner.
Some people also pointed out that the government hasn’t taken on the public’s feedback before on issues like the CPF withdrawal age and GST hikes:
One person talked about how he had sent in feedback about to the Bishan North CCC but it was ignored:
While another person questioned the kind of feedback that the government has been getting so far, suggesting that the administration has only been listening to ‘yes men’.