Expansive 2019 Budget beefs up Merdeka Generation Package

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Photo: You Tube screengrab from govsingapore / https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qY82GQSKm3k

The Merdeka Generation Package – estimated to cost approximately S$8 billion – is apparently Singapore’s showpiece for the 2019 Budget. It could heighten consumer spending as witnessed in the upsurge of retail proceeds following the introduction of the 2014 Pioneer Package, said Maybank Kim Eng economists.

The said focus is in line with what Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat mentioned in a previous talk when he said that this year’s budget will give more attention to education and healthcare.

On the other hand, Second Minister for Finance and Education Indranee Rajah said that the Singaporean government will keep its 2019 Budget geared at assisting the economy navigate global uncertainties via innovation, internationalization and capability building for workers, and a special focus on the underprivileged.

When asked about assistance for small and medium enterprises (SMEs), “The best assistance is really to help SMEs to be productive, to help them to see how to best scale up, how to partner with bigger entities to access opportunities”, was her response and she added that this year’s Budget will focus on these areas, as well as implement moves to further encourage SMEs to band together.”

Innovation, digitalization, internationalization
A UOB report highlighted the enhancement moves to the SkillsFuture initiative, given Singapore’s need to train and “re-skill” workers for them to stay relevant in the future.

This could come in the form of identifying and introducing courses that influence Singapore’s digital revolution, especially in areas of “robotics, digitalization and programming,” clarified UOB economist Barnabas Gan.

Mr. Gan also said that there could be policies in Budget 2019 that would help local firms in the areas of innovation, digitalization and internationalization. These could come in the form of research and development (R&D) incentives on qualifying activities, especially given the expected expiry of the Productivity and Innovation Credit (PIC) scheme after the year of assessment 2018, he added.

“There could also be the introduction of a new digital tax incentive or credit that could be offered to encourage companies to invest in new digital products and services, as well as a potential fintech incentives to promote the adoption of digital and mobile payments, authentication and biometrics,” Mr. Gan explained.

Supporting the aforementioned moves contained in the 2019 Budget, is a DBS report hinting that there is also evident progress initiated to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in accessing policy assistance schemes and in supporting firms that venture into the ASEAN region.