This speech was part of the Budget 2022 Committee of Supply Debate, and delivered on 8 March 2022.
In this Budget, we are looking for ways to cut costs. The most effective way to cut costs is to streamline the Government structure. We should ensure the money is applied efficiently. For each social purpose there should be only one channel or platform.
The People’s Association (PA) with its $908 million budget comes to mind. Community engagement and citizens’ welfare are very important, but they are separately served by the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) and the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) with budgets of $107 million and $611 million respectively.
The PA is more like a political structure led by political appointees and volunteers. Thus, it is not clear whether it is serving the people or the ruling party. If it is not political, to avoid duplicating resources, we should either integrate the PA into the MCCY or put all community engagement activities at the MCCY into PA.
We should turn our community engagement into asset-light activities and stop incurring huge development expenditures on building new community centres. For FY2022, another $197 million is budgeted for such development. Instead, we should free up the land and resources tied up in community centres and other facilities and reallocate those resources to other social needs.
We can also potentially do more with the same dollar if we reorganize some activities among Ministry of Education (MOE), Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and MSF.
The $679 million earmarked for SkillsFuture should be taken out of MOE and integrated into MOM to ensure that the spending creates jobs for Singaporeans. SkillsFuture courses that do not result in better jobs should be dropped.
The $1.6 billion earmarked for Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) should be taken out of MSF and integrated into MOE to create a seamless education and development curriculum for our children. Finally, the original MSF minus ECDA should be reorganized into a new Ministry of Resilient Citizens (MRC) with the transfer of the $1.7 billion Financial Security Program from MOM to it. The MRC will focus on strengthening our social and financial compact and oversees social and family development, scholarship & bursary programs, CPF, a national healthcare scheme, a new unemployment insurance and lifelong fulfillment programs for the benefit of Singaporeans.