The Big Read: round table TODAY — what are the concerns of young S’poreans and what do they think of the 2022 budget?


Amanda: Since I built my mobile app (to match babysitters to parents) I’ve talked to a lot of young parents… It’s very stressful for them to take care of a young child during the pandemic. It is difficult to take time off when your child has to (be isolated at home for several days). Some of them make the decision to stop working completely, since the children do not go to school. This raises questions about the employability of many highly skilled young women. Minister Lawrence Wong has therefore addressed this issue. He said that, especially for low-income families, the issues they face are multifaceted. It’s not like you can just give them money and then that would solve the problem… What I was thinking when he brought this up was whether it was timely and holistic enough. I feel like sometimes a lot of parents are burnt out and they need immediate or timely help and it may not be able to reach them as quickly as we hope…I hopefully there will be more support and more collaboration, and then that might bridge that gap.

Bernadette: So to hear the Budget speech, where there is a foreign labor policy adjustment, we clearly have our challenges cut out for us. The foreign dependency ratio is really calculated based on how much local labor you can hire and I think most companies in the F&B sector have really gone out of their way to hire as many locals as possible.

Right now we are already struggling with the number of locals we have. We are therefore not very optimistic about the extent to which we will still be able to modify or redesign jobs in order to meet the labor needs necessary for business growth.

There is a lot of competition between sectors and within various industries for the same pool of talent. Highly digitized companies like Creative Eateries, where we have digitized much of our platforms, will need dynamic local workers to run the business. But the same pool of people is also in great demand by other companies, other industries, which are not necessarily in direct competition with us. So whether in project management, IT, HR, finance… (people in these fields) are all needed in all industries of the economy and they are not enough.

Charles: The first thing that came to mind was the increase in the Goods and Services Tax (GST), and it took me a while to realize how much of an impact the 9% GST will have on my life. It’s so vast. Everything will be affected.

The minister also mentioned article 6 of the Paris agreement (which establishes a framework for a carbon market). When it comes to carbon offsets and carbon credits, we have to ask whether these are just offsets so that companies are no longer required to pay the carbon tax. Many environmental groups say these carbon credits should not be a last resort, because if you really want to decarbonize the economy, we must not allow companies and businesses or even organizations to simply use these carbon credits to escape to decarbonization.

Nurultasnim: The (increase in the basic sum for retirement and increase in the monthly payments of the CPF) caught my attention. It’s very reassuring to me that my parents have something to rely on and that I don’t have to provide for them all my life.

Sebastian: I was touched by what Minister Lawrence Wong mentioned about (maintaining a sense of) obligation to one another. What the minister said is actually what is called in social work sector as the “many helping hands” approach. This is where the individual has a role to play for their own life and then comes with the support of family members, loved ones and also the community to support them. Finally, the government is working with the respective stakeholders for self, family and community in this “many helping hands” approach to help our families and fellow Singaporeans. So I thought those are very interesting principles that we have in Singapore.

…SkillsFuture has also been mentioned and I remind you that the top-ups and additional credits will expire in 2025, so I’m quite curious if the government will announce any other plans in the future regarding SkillsFuture…this investment towards lifelong learning, regardless of age, will benefit everyone, regardless of their income group.

We have also heard of good SingapoRediscovers. Vouchers were introduced to boost tourism, but…they also allowed low income families to have luxury activities like going to the zoo or other excursions. Vouchers have unintended positive benefits and I am curious if the government will consider in the future how we can use these vouchers to improve the quality of life of Singaporeans.

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