Labour Members of Parliament share their hopes for Budget 2024  

15/02/2024

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Lawrence Wong will present Singapore’s Budget 2024 in Parliament tomorrow (Feb 16). Labour Members of Parliament from the People’s Action Party hope the budget will include measures to assist workers who inevitably lose their jobs, help older and mid-career Singaporeans upgrade their skills and qualifications, and provide opportunities for young Singaporeans.

In a Facebook post, DPM Wong said the Budget is the first instalment of the plans set out in the #ForwardSG roadmap.  

“It is a Budget to keep Singapore moving forward, equip citizens to realise their fullest potential and give more assurance to families and seniors in Singapore amid a more troubled world. Let us work hand in hand, building our shared future together,” he added. 

Mr Wong will deliver the annual speech for the third consecutive year. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said he would hand over leadership to Mr Wong by November, before the next General Election. This likely marks the last time Mr Wong will deliver the Budget statement in his capacity as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister.  

Chairman of the GPC for Manpower Desmond Choo (Tampines GRC) told Petir.sg that given uncertain geopolitical tensions and early signs of an economic slowdown with rising layoffs and slowing job growth, he wants to see greater support for workers who inevitably lose their jobs, especially in the areas of unemployment assistance. This is needed to ensure workers’ livelihoods remain a priority. 

Chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committees (GPC) for Education Patrick Tay (Pioneer SMC) also hoped to hear more updates on support for retrenched and unemployed Singaporeans seeking to re-enter workforce. This is an issue he has advocated for over the past decade.   

Noting the government’s significant investments to help workers, particularly during the pandemic, Mr Choo said the government should assess the collective outcomes of these investments to help workers find jobs and receive improved training to seize opportunities. “This can then inform the Manpower GPC on what needs to build upon to have one of the world’s most admired workforces,” he added.  
 
For the longer run, Mr Choo emphasised the need to establish frameworks to guide workforce development amid structural changes caused by artificial intelligence and the green transition. 

“AI adoption is non-linear.  We need a blueprint to help our workers adopt AI and remain resilient in their careers, especially for administrative, entry levels of analysis and technology roles where changes are already being felt.” 

At the same time, the green transition can disrupt workers in trades like internal combustion engine automobiles, and power generation.  While these changes take time, greater adoption of greener technologies has altered traditional ways of manufacturing and work processes.” 

SkillsFuture, a national movement launched in 2015 to provide Singaporeans opportunities to develop their full potential throughout life regardless of their starting points, has been in place for nine years. Mr Tay said he looks forward to the next phase of SkillsFuture to “better support workers, employers and Singaporeans, especially mature Singaporeans who are more vulnerable in terms of employment and employability in today’s digital, disrupted and AI-powered world.”  

More support for youths: Labour MPs  

Mr Choo also hoped to see more support for youths in areas like quality internships, career exploration opportunities, mentorship programmes, and improved access to resources to enhance their financial literacy.  He said, “For example, how can we best help youths in sectors that might be highly vulnerable to structural changes?”   

Yeo Wan Ling (Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC) also stressed the need to create good job prospects for youths. “This includes overseas stints and continued upskilling to navigate evolving job functions in an increasingly competitive global landscape.” 

She urged the government to accord more protection and representation to freelancers, and support for local companies, especially small-medium enterprises as Singapore introduces new workplace policies like anti-harassment and workplace fairness legislation amid rising business costs.  

The Budget Statement will be broadcast live on television and radio, as well as online at www.singaporebudget.gov.sg