The most interesting feature at this year’s Budget debate is probably the attention given by the media to alternative policies and pathways raised by backbenchers.
Here are some of the ideas reported in the media.
Janil Puthucheary (PAP) recommended that free public transport rides be given at off peak hours to try and change commuter behaviour and reduce peak load.
Liang Eng Hwa (PAP) agreed and called for a freeze on public transport fares until there is a significant improvement in service quality. He also expressed his frustration with trying to get PTOs to raise standards.
Lee Li Lian (WP) asked that flexi-work become part of legislation, and asked for a waiver of the FDW levy for certain groups.
Inderjit Singh (PAP) called for a minimum wage of $1,500 to be implemented over five years. NMP Laurence Lien also thought a minimum wage would be a good idea. Labour chief Lim Swee Say said “no” for the umpteenth time, again without a clear explanation.
Irene Ng (PAP) asked that respect for all people be shown by recognising a “living wage” level at which a wage is considered fair.
Christopher de Souza (PAP) asked for the preschool sector to be nationalised, pushing against the tide of the G trying to privatise everything.
Eugene Tan (NMP) asked if Singapore should consider dual citizenship, now that 40% of Singaporeans marry foreigners. DPM Teo rejected the idea.
Ang Wei Neng, Sitoh Yih Pin and Fatima Lahteef (all PAP) asked for ten citizen assentors to be required for every application for citizenship. DPM Teo said he would consider the idea.
In that vein, Zainal Sapari (PAP) suggested that there also be a citizenship test.
Hri Kumar Nair (PAP) also said that integration efforts needed to be re-evaluated and strengthened. He plugged his National Defence Duty idea again.
Sylvia Lim (WP) called for additional tax brackets for the super-rich.
Lee Bee Wah (PAP), Pritam Singh (WP) and Teo Siong Seng (NMP) spoke out against the drastic curbs on car loans.
Ong Teng Koon, Teo Ho Pin, Lee Bee Wah (all PAP) and Lina Chiam (NCMP, SPP) were just a few of many who thought that the government could do better for restructuring and productivity than what the Wage Credit Scheme and Productivity Innovation Credits offered.
Finally, Sitoh Yih Pin (PAP) asked that the G be more upfront with bad news, manage expectations and communicate better.