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Parliamentary Replies

Public Preferences for Government Expenditure

15 Jan 2019

Parliamentary Question by Associate Professor Walter Theseira:

To ask the Minister for Finance whether the Ministry will study public preferences for Government expenditure by requesting income tax filers to hypothetically hypothecate 10% of their income taxes towards the expenditure of a particular Ministry and making public the results of such studies to strengthen Government accountability and responsiveness.

Parliamentary Reply by Minister for Finance, Heng Swee Keat:

Understanding the public’s needs and preferences is a central part of the Ministry of Finance’s work so that we can better allocate public spending to serve the nation’s needs. We do so through various methods, including surveys, various feedback channels and direct engagements with citizens. 

Every year, the Government holds a formal Budget feedback exercise to understand citizens’ concerns as part of preparations for the annual Budget. For Budget 2019, REACH had Listening Points across Singapore from 3 December 2018 to 11 January 2019 to provide accessible, open booths for Singaporeans to give their views for Budget 2019. Feedback received during these consultations contribute to the formulation of the Budget and prioritisation of Government expenditures. 

For example, the increase in social spending in recent years reflects our collective aspirations to better care for one another and to do more for the vulnerable members of our society. At the same time, the Government must also devote appropriate resources to areas serving the collective good, like defence, law and order, and public infrastructure. 

We will continue to explore different ways to understand public preferences, and help the public better understand the link between government revenue and expenditure.