International Business & Economy Indranee Rajah: Latest Covid-19 Budget measures not exempt from scrutiny in Parliament

Indranee Rajah: Latest Covid-19 Budget measures not exempt from scrutiny in Parliament

“When there are significant Budget measures, the usual practice is to announce them ahead of time. This gives the MPs time to form their views on the plans," said Ms Indranee

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Singapore—Indranee Rajah took to Facebook on Sunday (Aug 23) to explain why the most recent Covid-19 budget measures were announced via broadcast instead of in Parliament, writing that there were ‘some’ that had asked her regarding the matter.

Ms Indranee, who is Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, Second Minister for Finance, and, most recently, Second Minister for National Development, clarified why the Ministerial Statement announcing the fifth set of Covid-19 budget measures had been delivered by Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat through a broadcast on August 17.

The first reason is that this would give companies and employees clarity regarding the plans of the Government to support them before Parliament opens on August 14. Many measures are reaching their end soon, such as the coverage from the Jobs Support Scheme, which is scheduled to end this month. Ms Indranee wrote, “Many jobs are at stake if there is no clarity on Government’s plan.”

Secondly, she wrote that both Members of Parliament and the public should be given sufficient time to for considering these measures before the start of Parliament.

The Minister clarified, however, that the new set of measures are not exempt from Parliamentary scrutiny. She wrote, “When there are significant Budget measures, the usual practice is to announce them ahead of time. This gives the MPs time to form their views on the plans.  It also gives the public time to provide feedback to their MPs and the ministries.  This is then debated in parliament.”

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Ms Indranee added that this is why, yearly, the Budget is delivered first, and then debated upon later on.

Why was the recent Ministerial Statement broadcast, instead of being delivered in Parliament?Some people have asked me…

Posted by Indranee Rajah on Sunday, 23 August 2020

For the new measures, because Parliament begins again on August 24 with the address from the President and the swearing-in of MPs, “there is no opportunity for any ministerial statement at this sitting.” And for the sitting a week later, MPs “will be going straight into the debate on the President’s Address.”

She added, “If we deliver the Ministerial Statement on 31 August itself, MPs won’t have enough time to reflect on the measures before the debate.”

The Minister gave the assurance that Members of Parliament  “can (and should)” ask questions about, as well as air their perspectives, in Parliament regarding DPM Heng’s August 17 Ministerial Statement.

Furthermore, Ms Indranee explained that “the Government will in the coming months seek Parliament’s approval for its revised spending plans to give effect to the measures in the Ministerial Statement.  This will be done through a Supplementary Supply Bill which must go through the usual 1st, 2nd and 3rd readings and be passed by Parliament and assented to by the President.”

She ended her post with affirming the Government’s accountability and writing that “all is still fully in accordance with good governance.” And because the most recent measures have a direct bearing on people’s “people’s welfare and well-being,” the statement was made earlier rather than later because “we wanted to give enough time for proper scrutiny and deliberation.” —/TISG

Read also: S$8b for Covid-19 support measures not from past reserves: DPM Heng

S$8b for Covid-19 support measures not from past reserves: DPM Heng

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