Singapore DPM to unveil Budget 2021 in Parliament on Feb 16

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Heng Swee Keat said preparation for Budget 2021 is well underway. - ST

SINGAPORE (The Straits Times/ANN): Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Heng Swee Keat will unveil Budget 2021 in Parliament on Feb 16, a Tuesday.

The Ministry of Finance (MOF) announced the date in a statement on Thursday (Dec 31).

There will be live television and radio coverage of the Budget, and a live webcast will also be available on the Singapore Budget website.

In a Facebook post on Thursday, Heng, who is also Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies, said it has become almost a tradition to announce the date of the annual Budget around the turn of the year, and it is no different this year.

"But this year has been far from traditional. Instead of an annual Budget, we had four Budgets and two ministerial statements. To support our workers, companies and households through Covid-19, we introduced several rounds of support measures," he wrote.

Preparation for Budget 2021 is well underway, and the pandemic is contained locally, with the vaccination exercise ongoing, he noted.

"But the overall outlook remains highly uncertain and will be the case for some time to come.

"If the trajectory of economic recovery is on track, then we will have a more 'traditional' Budget year. But if the situation takes a turn for the worse, we are ready to respond and adapt," said Heng.

Various channels have been set up for Singaporeans to share their views and hopes for the upcoming Budget until Jan 8.

Government feedback unit Reach has set up virtual and physical listening points at high-traffic areas, while the People's Association and its grassroots organisations will reach out to Singaporeans via virtual engagement platforms, including an initiative called Ask Kopi Kakis.

Details of the physical listening points can be found on the Reach Budget 2021 microsite, while details about Ask Kopi Kakis can be found at this website.

Themes and questions to be covered include those on the economy, workforce, society and community, a safe and smart nation, and environmental sustainability.

Some of these questions include how Singapore can encourage and accelerate digital adoption and support vulnerable groups more effectively, as well as how businesses can transform and thrive in a post-Covid-19 world.

In November, Heng and representatives from several agencies and investment entities also briefed President Halimah Yacob and the Council of Presidential Advisers on their long-term macroeconomic outlook and the Government's proposed expected long-term real rates of return, as part of preparation work for the Budget.

Halimah said the discussions centred on Covid-19 and its impact.

Apart from the near-term uncertainties brought on by the pandemic, she noted that a key question is also whether Covid-19 has fundamentally changed the investment landscape.

Other key questions Halimah said needed to be studied are the structural shifts that Covid-19 has caused to the macroeconomic environment, and how these factors impact Singapore's long-term investment returns.

Close to $100 billion was dedicated to Covid-19 support measures over four Budgets and two ministerial statements, with up to $52 billion drawn from the reserves. - The Straits Times/Asia News Network

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