The Singapore Budget 2018 was delivered in Parliament by Minister for Finance, Heng Swee Keat on 19 February 2018. In his speech, he addressed the major shifts that our Singapore society is facing today, namely, the economic shift of Singapore in Asia, the emergence of new technologies and the aging population in Singapore.
Minister Heng also highlighted the goals the Budget 2018 aims to achieve, which involves developing a vibrant and innovative economy in Singapore as well as building up a smarter and greener Singapore society. At the same time, the Budget 2018 also strives to foster a more caring and cohesive society, as well as planning ahead for a fiscally sustainable and secure future for Singapore.
With numerous plans being laid out to address the current and future needs of Singapore, here are 4 highlights of the Budget 2018 that are most relevant to manpower and HR challenges.
1. Increased support for businesses and workers
The Wage Credit Scheme (WCS) has been extended for an additional three years and will continue to provide co-funding of wage increases for Singaporean employees. The WCS will co-fund 20% of wage increases for 2018, 15% for 2019 and 10% for 2020. This extension will cost approximately SGD1.8 billion over the next three years.
There have been previous announcements on the intention to increase Foreign Worker Levy rates. However, for the sectors that still face weakness, particularly the Marine Shipyard and Process sectors, the increase in Foreign Worker Levy rates will be deferred for another year.
There will be efforts to strengthen employment support for lower to middle income workers through the Career Trial scheme, an upgrade from the existing Work Trial Scheme, which will provide higher funding to support workers to try out new careers.
2. Encouraging innovation and building the capabilities of the workforce
The Budget aims to support businesses to purchase and make use of new solutions by offering a single Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG).
In order to help business partner with relevant companies to build innovate and build new solutions, the Government will pilot the Open Innovation Platform, a virtual crowd-sourcing platform, in 2018.
In a bid to ensure that employees in Singapore keep up with ever-evolving digital skills, there will be an expansion of the Tech Skills Accelerator (TeSA) into new sectors such as manufacturing and professionals services, whereby digital technologies are increasingly important.
3. Supporting adoption of digital technology in firms
To drive further adoption of digital technologies, automation and robotics, programmes such as the Aviation Transformation Programme (ATP), Maritime Transformation Programme (MTP) and National Robotics Programme (NRP) will be launched in Singapore.
4. Forge stronger local and cross-border partnership
The eventual goals is to anchor Singapore as a Global-Asia node of technology, innovation and enterprise. As such, the Global Innovation Alliance (GIA) was launched in 2018 for Singaporeans to gain valuable experience and networking outside the local borders.
Similarly, there will be more initiatives such as the Singapore Week of Innovation and Technology (SWITCH) as well as development of an ASEAN Innovation Network which will hopefully foster closer relations with Singapore’s neighbouring countries. At the same time, build a business partnership with overseas companies.
You may read more about the Singapore Budget 2018 here.
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