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Students Voice Their Choices on The Singapore Budget

16 Feb 2005

For the first time, students had a go at voicing their choices on expenditure and revenue priorities for the Singapore Budget and debated on fiscal choices with officials from the Ministry of Finance (MOF).

2 Economics came to life for some 29 students from eight junior colleges on Tuesday, 15 February 2005, at Anderson Junior College. Students worked on the Singapore Budget, using "Voice Your Choice", a web-activity tool from the 2005 Budget Website. Students debated and discussed their choices over issues such as whether to increase or decrease spending in areas like housing and security, and whether to increase or decrease financing from taxes such as GST and income tax.

3 Budgets are about choices. All countries face tough choices in fiscal policy. Like most choices in life, fiscal choices have their own set of tradeoffs, i.e. benefits and costs. But what makes fiscal choices more significant is the effect they have on households, businesses and the government. Higher taxes lower household incomes but allow the government to provide more for the less privileged. Lower taxes increase our business competitiveness, but may undermine government's ability to provide adequately for its citizens. Each choice taken also impacts current and future generations differently.

4 How would the students' choices on the Singapore Budget differ from that of the Finance Minister's? They will find out when they visit Parliament to listen to the Budget Statement on Budget Day, 18 February 2005. After that, they will meet the Minister of State for Finance, Mrs Lim Hwee Hua, over tea and exchange their views on Budget 2005.

5 To reach out to more students, the Ministry of Finance also conducted a similar discussion session on 3 February 2005 with Economics teachers from junior colleges and a centralised institute. Teachers who attended the session found it useful and gained a better understanding of the key imperatives that Singapore needs to consider when preparing its budget. They also found "Voice Your Choice" useful and plan to incorporate it into their lessons.

6 The Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Finance hope that this exercise will help our students better understand the budget process and the fiscal challenges that Singapore faces.