From babies to exams to housing: Debate on ministries’ budget at a glance

The nearly week-long debate on government spending in Parliament covered a range of topics – from schemes to help senior citizens live healthier and happier, to moves to help first-time Build-To-Order flat applicants who are married or with children secure a home.

1. Prime Minister’s Office


The Government will start making regular progress reports on public sector sustainability initiatives.

A new ScamShield bot will be available on WhatsApp later in 2023, allowing the public to easily report scam messages and check whether a message is likely to be a scam.

The Health Appointment System will be expanded by April to allow appointment bookings for all vaccines under the National Adult Immunisation Schedule, and by June, vaccines under the National Childhood Immunisation Schedule.

Issues raised:

NMP Hoon Hian Teck suggested that the organisation of work and the promotion and compensation system be adjusted to enable workers to have better control of their work schedules, while keeping full-time employment status.

Ms Cheng Li Hui (Tampines GRC) asked if the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority would consider more favourably the permanent resident applications of seniors who have resided in Singapore for decades and have strong family ties here.

Workers’ Party (WP) MP Sylvia Lim (Aljunied GRC) called for the lowering of voting age from 21 to 18, to empower younger Singaporeans to have a say at national elections.

2. Ministry of Finance


Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) will be able to bid for government contracts under a new category by end-2023 that will allow more suppliers to participate in tenders with value higher than $90,000 but below $1 million.

From financial year 2024, for tenders of construction projects and information and communications technology (ICT) projects with minimum estimated procurement value of $50 million and $10 million respectively, up to 5 per cent of the evaluation points will be set aside for sustainability-related considerations.

Issues raised:

Mr Liang Eng Hwa (Bukit Panjang) asked how the ministry could better support SMEs participating in government procurements as they have innovative solutions and product offerings.

Ms Foo Mee Har (West Coast GRC) suggested that the Government identify the most pressing areas of need where philanthropy can have the greatest impact, given tighter fiscal space in the coming years.

NCMP Leong Mun Wai suggested a framework where a proposal is not considered to be a “raid on the reserves” if the expenditure required is small relative to the size of the reserves and net investment return, and it serves an important purpose.


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