Budget 2020 : 5 things Singapore’s youth need to know
Key takeaways include measures to mitigate climate change, more overseas exposure for local students and job and family support. Read more at straitstimes.com.
Key takeaways are:1. Building a future-ready workforce As global competition intensifies in a fast-changing economy, Singaporeans will need to learn new skills or risk falling behind. To that end, the Government will provide every Singaporean aged 25 and above in 2020 with a one-off $500 SkillsFuture credit top-up to boost industry readiness.
The top-up, which can be used from Oct 1, will expire at the end of 2025. This is in addition to the initial $500 SkillsFuture credit that was introduced in 2015 with no expiry date.Mr Heng, who is also Finance Minister, explained that the five-year deadline is to “encourage Singaporeans to take action early to learn new skills, and to make the best use of this period of economic slowdown”.
Will it spur our youth to seize more learning opportunities?“I have already used my existing credits to take courses of my interest, but the top-up will allow me to further progress to advanced stages,” said Ms Angela Toh, 33, a freelance event manager. headtopics.com
The Government has also set a new target for 70 per cent of local graduates from higher learning institutes to gain overseas exposure, especially in Asean, China or India.Mr Heng said the increase in overseas exposure would equip students with cross-cultural skills and help them understand the region better. A new initiative, called the Asia-Ready Exposure Programme, will support young Singaporeans’ visits to these regions.
There will also be more support for internships under the Global Ready Talent Programme launched last October to provide funding support for students interning overseas with Singapore firms.2. Help with household living costs Amid the Covid-19 outbreak, the Government has unveiled a $1.6 billion Care and Support package to help families defray some of their household expenses.
The relief package includes a one-off cash payout ranging from $100 to $300 for all Singaporeans aged 21 and above this year. The amount will depend on each person’s income and housing type."The one-off cash payout is definitely welcome,” said Ms Zoe Hwee, 24, a polytechnic graduate who lives with her parents and two siblings in a five-room Housing Board (HDB) flat. “In addition to the GST Voucher scheme, I will receive more cash this year."
Besides the one-time cash payout, the Government will double the amount of U-Save rebates, meant to offset utilities expenses for eligible HDB households, through a one-off GST Voucher – U-Save Special Payment.A five-room HDB household that gets $280 a year through the regular GSTV-U-Save rebate, for example, would get $560. headtopics.com
Larger households with five or more members will receive an additional rebate. The Government will also extend service and conservancy charges rebate for HDB households by another year.3. GST offset package In his Budget speech, Mr Heng stressed that the goods and services tax (GST) hike from 7 to 9 per cent, set to take effect sometime between 2021 and 2025, is needed to fund upcoming spendings, especially on healthcare.
He noted that Singapore’s ageing population would lead to rising demand for healthcare and that spending in this area would benefit all Singaporeans."Given the current economic situation, I am glad the GST hike is postponed for now. But, I still believe it is necessary for the future," said 28-year-old management trainee Jonathan Cheow.
A $6 billion Assurance Package has been set aside to cushion the impact of the GST increase. With the package, all adult Singaporeans will get cash payouts of between $700 and $1,600 over five years.4. More support for education Pre-university students from lower-income families will get an extra $100 under the Ministry of Education’s Financial Assistance Scheme, with the quantum raised from $900 to $1,000. All students will also receive higher transport subsidies, with secondary school students getting more school meal subsidies.
Needy students at the higher education level will receive more help too. Those from lower- and middle-income families in autonomous universities and polytechnics can benefit from higher bursaries from the 2020 academic year, said Mr Heng.Bursaries for full-time Institute of Technical Education students will also be improved. Students from the lowest-income families will no longer have to pay tuition fees from the 2020 academic year on top of the bursary. headtopics.com
Meanwhile, the Government is set to more than double its annual spending of $1 billion on the early childhood sector over the next few years to make pre-schools more affordable for parents.This includes plans to increase the number of Government-supported pre-schools from just over half of all pre-schools in Singapore now to 80 per cent by 2025.
5. Combating climate change In a pre-Budget conversation with more than 200 youths on Jan 18, Mr Heng and Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu found that climate protection was a key concern among the young.To chart a vision for a low-carbon, sustainable Singapore, the Government is committing close to $1 billion for research in urban solutions and sustainability, focusing on areas such as renewable energy and carbon capture technologies.
Mr Heng also announced new measures to phase out all vehicles with internal combustion engines and replace them with environmentally friendly alternatives by 2040.Among them are early adoption incentives, where those who buy fully electric cars and taxis will receive a rebate of 45 per cent off the Additional Registration Fee — capped at $20,000 per vehicle. The initiative will run for three years from January 2021.
Singapore will further expand its electric vehicle charging infrastructure from 1,600 charging points now to 28,000 by 2030.Mr Heng added that HDB will introduce a new programme, called the HDB Green Towns Programme, that focuses on lowering energy consumption, recycling rainwater and cooling HDB towns.
Mr Ethan Rakin, 21, a full-time national serviceman, welcomed the initiatives: “It is crucial that we protect the environment and the recently announced measures are very encouraging towards making a difference."Your future, your sayTo strengthen the Government’s commitment to working with youths, the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) launched the SG Youth Action Plan last May.
The plan provides a platform for the young to highlight issues they care about and propose solutions to build their vision for Singapore in 2025. Together with the National Youth Council, MCCY has reached out to more than 400,000 youths, aged between 15 and 35, so far.
A six-month programme called the Youth Action Challenge was introduced last September as part of the SG Youth Action Plan.The programme gathered 250 youths, split into 50 teams, to come up with solutions to improve Singaporean lives in three areas: environment, societal issues, and jobs and the future of work.
Next month, 12 selected teams will pitch their ideas to a panel of industry experts and youth leaders for the opportunity to receive up to $50,000 in grants to put their ideas into action. Read more: The Straits Times »
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