2023 Roundup (Jan-Feb): Silver linings amidst dark clouds. A Budget for every Singaporean.


IF THERE is one thing to remember from Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s 2023 New Year’s Message, it is that even the darkest of clouds have silver linings, but only for those bold enough to seize opportunities.  

The international outlook remained troubled, PM Lee warned. The Russia-Ukraine war, rivalry between the great powers and major global economies still recovering from the pandemic would affect Singapore’s economy. 

Regardless, Singapore had emerged stronger after the difficult years of the pandemic, PM Lee said. Also, work on major projects like Tuas Port and Changi Airport Terminal 5 had geared up.

Source: Lee Hsien Loong / Facebook, Prime Minister’s Office 

“There is great interest in Singapore — many businesses and individuals want to set up shop here and in the region. We must seize the moment. Welcome promising investments and talents of all nationalities to Singapore, while building up our own skills and capabilities, venturing forth to chase our dreams in the region and the world. Together, we will build a brighter future for Singapore and all Singaporeans,” said PM Lee. 

A Fair and Inclusive Budget

This notion of building a brighter future for all Singaporeans was evident this January and February. This was quite literal when the Housing and Development Board announced (Jan 28) that 55 per cent of the Build-to-Order (BTO) backlog from the pandemic had been cleared — no easy feat considering that over 90 per cent of BTOs were delayed in June 2021.  

Our Government launched the Action Plan for Successful Ageing in January too. This Two-Year Plan means creating activities, facilities and education for at least 550,000 seniors to age gracefully and meaningfully.    

Then there was Budget 2023 in February. It was a fair and inclusive one. It gave more of Singapore’s limited resources to those with less and, in fact, had something for Singaporeans from all walks of life. At Petir.sg, we were especially excited for families having more caregiving leave and there being more incentive to hire people with disabilities (PWDs), ex-offenders and seniors. 

“We strive, not just for ourselves and our families, but also for those around us. Because we are also a caring, gracious, and generous people — we treat each other as equals, we respect and look out for one another, and we are ever ready to extend a helping hand to those in need,” said Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Lawrence Wong in his Budget speech.  

Source: Lawrence Wong, Facebook, Arpit Khambhata/ Getty Images 

Minister Wong’s Budget twined with PM Lee’s Message. Taken together, they are a layered vision for Singapore going forward: Carpe diem competitive, and at the same time with the heartware for Singaporeans to journey alongside each other.