Parliamentary Question by Mr Louis Ng Kok Kwang:
To ask the Minister for Finance whether the Ministry will consider releasing a draft Budget Statement for public consultation one month before the delivery of the Budget Statement in Parliament.
Reply by Senior Minister of State for Finance Indranee Rajah:
We agree that engaging and consulting the public are valuable to the Budget process. In fact, preparations and consultations for the Budget take place all year round. Throughout the year, the Government gathers feedback and studies data to formulate and implement better plans. This consultation effort goes beyond MOF and includes the outreach and consultations by other ministries and REACH to Singaporeans, businesses, workers and various sectors.
The feedback gathering is intensified around the end of the year, typically by early December, in a more formal Budget feedback exercise. This process is structured along certain themes and questions, which in a way reflects some of the areas being examined for the coming Budget. For Budget 2017, REACH had Listening Points across Singapore over 10 December 2016 to 8 January 2017 to provide accessible, open booths for Singaporeans to give their views for Budget 2017. REACH also hosted events such as the Pre-Budget 2017 Conversation and Facebook Q&A Session for Singaporeans to directly engage with policymakers and MPs. MOF ran engagement sessions with stakeholders, such as trade associations, and grassroots leaders. This past year, through the work of the Committee on the Future Economy, there were additional engagement sessions with students, industry leaders, unionists and academics. Feedback received during these consultations had further contributed to the formulation of the Budget.
On the timing of consultation, we have found from our interactions with companies and stakeholders that many of them would prefer to give their views closer to the Budget as the economic situation for the coming year is clearer and business concerns become clearer.
The current spread of engagement opportunities during the year, growing more intensive nearer Budget Day, achieves the goal of engaging Singaporeans to think about our future, as Mr Louis Ng’s suggestion intends.
The Budget is not a destination, but part of a journey of feedback-gathering, analysis, policy review and refinement, in order to improve Singapore and the lives of Singaporeans.