SINGAPORE: Singapore’ Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said the idea behind crafting this year’ budget is to have one that deals directly with the economic issues that confront Singapore, instead of having smaller measures every few months.
Mr Lee made the remark as he went about his rounds on the first day of the Lunar New Year to show his appreciation to workers who help keep essential industries going.
This year, it was a visit to pharmaceutical firm GlaxoSmithKline.
But with worries about the economy, the customary tossing of the “lo hei” for prosperity had an added ring of urgency this year.
Mr Lee was asked questions about off-Budget measures, such as what should happen if the global situation does not pick up.
Said PM Lee: “It’s too early to say yet but we are assessing the situation constantly and very carefully so that if we need to do more, we can do more. But I think we would prefer to make a decisive move and monitor for some time, which is what we have done with this Budget, rather than do a little bit then after a little while do a little bit more, then after while, do a little bit more.
“This way there’s an impact. Everybody knows where we stand. We’ve moved. We’ve got Jobs Credit, it’s an unprecedented programme and we’ve got the Special Risk Sharing programme that is also something we would not otherwise have wanted to think about in normal circumstances.”
As for some reactions that the Budget was more for businesses than individuals, Mr Lee pointed out that there was quite a significant package for households, although some would have wished for more.
Going forward, PM Lee said he will keep an eye on how the American and European economies do over the next six to nine months, but cautioned layoffs may still be inevitable.
Said Mr Lee: “What we do know is that there are plants which have some retrenchments in the pipeline. We hope they will look at the overall situation and consider carefully not just from the immediate point of view, but from the longer term point of view.
“(We hope the firms will) take everything into consideration, including Budget measures, Jobs Credit , SPUR programme and make a careful decision and consider retrenchments as final choice rather than first choice.”
Job security remains an issue, especially after this Lunar New Year period.
While GlaxoSmithKline itself has no plans for retrenchment this year, the chemical industries union said the sector is still facing issues with about 200-300 people having been laid off in just January alone.
GlaxoSmithKline, which opened in 1982, has invested S$1.4 billion to date – with another S$100 million to pumped in from now until 2013.
i guess the future is uncertain huh?