Singapore's 4 Budgets 'effective', residents have felt the 'flow of benefits': Heng Swee Keat
SINGAPORE: Singapore's four Budgets have been “effective” in keeping residents employed, said Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat on Saturday (Jun 27).
He was speaking to reporters at West Coast GRC's Teban Marketplace, after a morning walkabout at the hawker centre. He was accompanied by Ms Foo Mee Har and Minister for Communications and Information S Iswaran.
Ms Foo and Mr Iswaran were part of the 2015 People’s Action Party (PAP) team that contested in West Coast GRC, winning 78.57 per cent of the vote against the Reform Party. They were among the best performing PAP teams in the 2015 General Election.
They are expected to face former PAP Member of Parliament Tan Cheng Bock’s Progress Singapore Party (PSP) at the polls this year.
“I’m very glad to see that many (residents) have told me that whether they are stallholders or whether they are workers, that the Budget measures have been effective in helping them,” said Mr Heng, who is also Minister for Finance.
He added that many residents have felt the “flow of benefits” and found the Budget initiatives adequate.
Since February, the Government has released four Budget packages aimed at mitigating the impact of COVID-19 on Singapore’s economy and helping businesses and workers. The country will spend a total of S$93 billion on these measures.
Mr Heng said that businesses and residents alike are “doing well”, with one businessman hiring more workers and companies rewarding employees with extra bonuses.
Other measures such as the Solidarity Payment, the Utilities Support Scheme and town council rebates have also helped residents, he added.
“My aim of this visit is to understand how the policies that we are making at the national level, how ... it translates to benefits for people on the ground,” Mr Heng said.
READ: Budget 2020: S$1.6 billion Care and Support Package to help Singaporeans with household expenses
CONTESTING WEST COAST GRC?
When asked if his visit to Teban Marketplace indicates a possible move from Tampines GRC to West Coast GRC, Mr Heng said that he would be visiting other locations as well.
“I’ll be going around, not just to the West Coast, but to all different parts of Singapore,” he said.
Mr Heng, Ms Foo and Mr Iswaran received a warm welcome on Saturday morning as they spent a few minutes chatting to groups of residents. Several members of the public also approached them for pictures.
READ: GE2020: PAP faces tough test from Tan Cheng Bock’s PSP in battle for West Coast GRC, say analysts
There are four things Ayer Rajah residents can be proud of, Ms Foo told reporters - better homes, better facilities, better connectivity and better lives.
She cited the various home upgrading programmes, a new eldercare centre, the Jurong Region Line and a “vibrant” group of voluntary welfare organisations.
“I think we’ve been able to bring the community together, and no one in Ayer Rajah has to face life’s challenges alone," she said. "We walk every step of the way with them."
PAP ALJUNIED TEAM OUT AND ABOUT
Aljunied GRC grassroots adviser Shamsul Kamar - who ran as part of the PAP's five-member team in Aljunied during the 2015 General Election - was also out and about on Saturday morning.
Aljunied GRC, which has been run by the Workers' Party (WP) since 2011, looks set to be hotly contested as the PAP seeks to regain its seats there, having narrowly lost to the WP in 2015.
Mr Shamsul - who is also the PAP's Kaki Bukit branch chair - however stressed that he was "not campaigning", and was instead seen handing out mosquito repellent and flyers on preventing dengue to shopkeepers and residents.
When asked to comment on the lineup that WP had recently announced for Aljunied - which will see Leon Perera and Gerald Giam replace Low Thia Kiang and Chen Show Mao - he said it was "natural" that the WP would field a team there, and that the changes were a part of the process of renewal for the party.
"I think the focus is really to serve the needs of the residents, I don't really think about it that much," he said on the PAP's chances in Aljunied in the upcoming elections.
"For me, it's really about how we can make a difference to the lives of the residents here. I don't make calculations of whether this will turn positive or what have you."