Singaporeans polled generally supportive of Budget 2019 measures: Reach

SINGAPORE - More than 80 per cent of Singaporeans polled about this year's Budget supported the Merdeka Generation Package.

However, support was lower for the government's efforts to gradually reduce the number of foreigners in the service sector.

Government feedback and engagement agency Reach announced these results, which were part of the findings from the Budget 2019 Feedback Exercise, on Sunday (March 24).

The exercise saw over 4,500 Singaporeans providing feedback on this year's Budget across 14 different platforms.

Reach engaged 2,601 of these respondents through face-to-face engagements at mobile feedback booths, known as Listening Points, and another 1,449 through telephone poll.

The remaining responses were gathered through dialogues, online feedback and messaging apps.

Reach said that around 84 per cent of those engaged at its Listening Points and 71 per cent of those who responded to its telephone poll agreed that the government's efforts to transform industries and deepen workers' capabilities will improve job opportunities for Singaporeans in the new economy.

Singaporeans who Reach spoke to called for the continuous emphasis and support for skills upgrading, particularly for mature workers.

Eight in 10 of those polled by telephone and at Listening Points welcomed the move to raise the maximum salary criterion for the Workfare Income Supplement (WIS), which would allow more workers to receive Workfare payouts.

Meanwhile, 83 per cent supported government efforts to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) increase innovation and productivity through measures such as the Enterprise Financing Scheme, SMEs Go Digital Programme and SME Co-Investment Fund III.

When it came to reducing the number of foreigners in the service sector, however, only 66 per cent of those from the Listening Points and 58 per cent of respondents from the telephone poll supported the reduction of the Dependency Ratio Ceiling (DRC), with many citing the importance of long-term manpower sustainability and unlocking potential employment opportunities for Singaporeans.

Support was higher for social measures, as respondents noted the government's efforts to provide stronger social safety nets.

 
 
 
 

The Merdeka Generation Package was supported by 85 per cent of respondents from the telephone poll, and 83 per cent of those at the Listening Points.

While they agreed that the enhancement of Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS) subsidies will help more Singaporeans cope with their healthcare expenses, some respondents reiterated the need for healthcare costs to be kept affordable in the long term.

The Bicentennial Bonus was welcomed by 76 per cent of respondents from the Listening Points and 66 per cent of respondents from the telephone poll, who viewed the move as a good way to share the budget surpluses with Singaporeans.

The move to allocate about 30 per cent of the national budget for defence met with more than 60 per cent support from those polled by telephone and those at Listening Points, as respondents noted that it was important that Singapore continues to stay vigilant against domestic and foreign threats, in order to safeguard its interests.

Reach chairman Sam Tan said that the findings show that most Singaporeans understand that the Budget 2019 announcements addresses both the short- and long-term needs of Singapore, as well as those of Singaporeans.

"It is heartening that more Singaporeans are coming forward to share their views candidly," he said.