Issue 108, March 2012
Understanding Budget 2012
Alumni attend the 20th Distinguished Alumni Forum to hear experts' views on the latest Budget announcement

When the Singapore Budget 2012 was delivered in Parliament by Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance and Manpower, it undeniably became the talk of the town. With the implementation of new schemes, and improvements made to existing policies, there was much for the public to discuss.

Alumnus Mr Chan Saik Wai (EEE/1986), one of the participants at the 20th Distinguished Alumni Forum said: “It is a common view amongst many people, that every year, there will be some issues about the Budget announcement which can be improved upon.”

These issues and more were discussed at the alumni forum chaired by Associate Professor Walter Edgar Theseira from NTU’s School of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Providing an informative summary of the year’s ‘Budget for the Future was Mr Puah Kok Keong, the Director of Fiscal Policy at the Ministry of Finance. He emphasised the importance of raising productivity and the income level of Singaporeans, whilst providing assistance to the elderly and disabled. He elaborated on the various measures needed to develop a fair and inclusive society. These measures may include providing Goods and Services Tax (GST) vouchers to the lower income group, enhancing the Special Employment Credit (SEC) to provide employers with continuing support to hire older Singaporean workers, and reducing the Dependency Ratio Ceilings of foreign workers for sustaining economic growth. 

Mr Sarjit Singh (NBS/1991), President of the Nanyang Business School Alumni Association, presented his views on the global game of change and the various factors shaping the country’s annual Budget. Living in an uncertain world where small decisions made can severely impact other countries, Mr Sarjit emphasised the importance of staying abreast of the economic progress of our rapidly urbanising neighbours, and remaining prominent in the global economy. As what was announced in Budget 2012, Mr Sarjit agreed that investments should be encouraged to transform Singapore into a high-capability economy and a global city that stands out for its liveability.

Tapping on his expertise as a tax partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), Mr Teo Wee Hwee (NBS/1997) presented an analysis of the tax changes in the year’s Budget, providing insights to justify these tax adjustments. He elaborated on the policies implemented by the Government and also shared the various strategies proposed at PwC to cope with future challenges such as the ‘silver tsunami’ and falling birth rates. Mr Teo advised the participants to view Budget 2012 as a platform to ease the impact of these future challenges. 

Forum Chairman Associate Professor Walter Edgar Theseira offered his opinion of the Budget 2012 from the perspective of a social scientist. He spoke of the importance of seeking feedback from the public via similar forums. He mentioned that for constructive engagement with policy-makers, there must be a shared basic level of understanding and transparency from the Government in order to effect the relevance of policies to the masses.

Close to 200 participants attended the forum which was organised by the NTU Alumni Affairs and the NTU Economics Society. It was held on 12 March at NTU’s one-north campus.

© Alumni Affairs Office