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Budget 2024: Economist foresees focus on four areas

RHB believes the budget will be a mix of short- and long-term goals.

Singapore’s upcoming budget will likely focus on strengthening the country's global competitiveness, developing workforce transformation, supporting businesses and enhancing the social compact, said RHB Chief Economist Barnabas Gan.

On strengthening global competitiveness, Gan said the government will likely introduce measures to help businesses build sustainability capabilities and capture new growth opportunities.

“We expect that Budget 2024 will focus on prioritising the development of talent and enhancing productivity and capabilities by leveraging emerging trends in technology and sustainability, aiming to establish Singapore as a trusted hub for businesses, innovation and talent,” Gan added.

RHB also believes there will be enhancements to the Workfare Skills Support (WSS) scheme to allow more inclusivity amongst low-wage workers and encourage them to undertake training.

“Singapore must prioritise investment in lifelong learning for its workforce, mainly focusing on mid-career workers to equip them with the skills and capabilities necessary to meet the evolving demands of the business landscape,” Gan said.

Meanwhile, since SMEs account for 99% of all enterprises and employ 72% of Singapore's workforce, Gan foresees budget measures to include support for digital and automation solutions adoption and tax incentives to attract talent.

Lastly, Gan predicts the budget to include measures that address the cost of living challenges lower and middle-income households face. 

“We expect policymakers to provide additional support, potentially through further enhancements to the Assurance Package to assist vulnerable families in coping with persistent, albeit rising, inflation,” Gan said.

“This includes measures like enhancing cash payouts under the Assurance Package and utility rebates, along with the possibility of a one-off cost-of-living special cash payment to alleviate the impact of the recent GST rate hike and the rise in utility expenses. We foresee the potential for additional CDC vouchers or a one-off top-up to PSEA to support Singaporean households further,” Gan added.

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