Story by Jonathan Tan, LabourBeat
If you’ve been following the Budget 2019 announcements made by Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat in Parliament on 18 February 2019, you would know that it focused on building a strong, united Singapore.
The details of that announcement were then shared by the various government ministries during the Committee of Supply Debates which concluded on 8 March 2019.
As a means of engaging with youths and unionists to find out what they thought about the Budget 2019 announcements, Young NTUC organised an exclusive dialogue session with NTUC Secretary-General (SG) Ng Chee Meng on 13 March 2019 at the NTUC Centre.
Part of the dialogue programme saw 85 participants, comprising young union leaders, youths from Young NTUC’s affinity groups such as Youth Career Network career guides, nEbO members and even Young PAP activists break out into small discussion groups. Topics such as cost of living, manpower supply, medical subsidies, the potential opportunities from the Global Ready Talent Programme and economic transition were some of the recurring points that surfaced from the discussions.
Exchanging candid perspectives with the youths, SG Ng explained the mechanics behind the budget and its design. Emphasising the realities behind the Government’s need to be accountable for budget spending, he also challenged youths to think about the bigger picture and how the budget can be used to help Singapore be a viable economy with good prospects for workers.
Other topics discussed included income tax, GST and how national policies are designed with Singaporeans at the heart of them.
“As union leaders, we forget that it is not about what we want. We need to look ahead at the future as well, and at the bigger picture,” shared Young Union of Security Employees leader Sophian Abdullah, 34.
He added that the session also gave him greater clarity on the symbiotic relationship between NTUC and People’s Action Party and a better idea of politics and how policies are shaped.
“While the budget might not have announcements that affect every Singaporean, there are still various measures and policies that help us manage the cost of living. This may be something some Singaporeans may not realise when they first read about the budget,” shared 23-year-old Jolyn Moh, when asked about her takeaways from the dialogue with SG Ng.