SINGAPORE: Ageing and healthcare were the top issues discussed at the pre-Budget 2019 dialogue that was held on Thursday (Dec 6) at the Asian Civilisations Museum.
About 100 people turned up for the dialogue jointly organised by government feedback unit REACH and the Finance Ministry.
The dialogue is part of the public feedback process that begins a few months before Budget 2019, which is scheduled to be delivered in Parliament in February.
Five broad themes were addressed: Ageing and healthcare, security and external relations, support for families, innovation, and philanthropy and volunteerism.
On the theme of ageing and healthcare, participants proposed ways for more seniors to get affordable care in the community. They also suggested ramping up care programmes focusing on mental health for the elderly.
The dialogue was hosted by Ms Indranee Rajah, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office and Second Minister for Finance and Education, as well as REACH chairman Sam Tan, who is also Minister of State for Social and Family Development, and for Foreign Affairs.
Speaking on the sidelines of the dialogue, Ms Indranee said the Government will do what it can to support older workers as workplaces change with shifts in technology.
“You can see that’s a continuing theme because technology continues to create changes and ripples in the workplace. The answer to that is not just to upskill and reskill but it’s also about innovation, helping Singapore companies to be able to access the opportunities in the region,” Ms Indranee said.
She also said next year's Budget will build on this year's and its theme will not be radically different from previous years' Budgets.
"You have to address the key things on people's minds, which are jobs. For families, it's the pressures and strains that they face, including those with young children and elderly parents."
Ms Indranee said it was interesting to note that participants in the dialogue did not just focus on how the Government can provide financial incentives, but gave suggestions on how Singaporeans can pitch in to help the community.
Participants that Channel NewsAsia spoke with were largely positive about the outcome of the dialogue.
Administration executive Hasnah Salleh, 62, said the dialogue was fruitful and she felt confident that her views will be taken into consideration for next year's Budget.
Marketing manager Eddy Lim, 44, who was part of the security and external affairs group, said discussions went beyond focusing on terrorism and racial harmony and he appreciated that conversations delved into ways of improving social well-being.
"Most of us came here feeling that the dialogue could be fluff. But overall during the dialogue, we could bring the agenda forward instead of stay in a negative state."