|Foreign construction workers at Little India. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
What I have always found refreshing is the more astute approach of doing the reverse; under promising and over delivering, as more often happens when it comes to Singapore budgets.
According to an article in Today Online, the Singapore government’s coffers last year swelled by S$3.9 billion, or three times higher than initially forecast.
While much has been made of the number of foreign workers being allowed to work in Singapore, there was a financial spin-off for the Government with higher foreign-worker levy collections contributing to a 10.7 % bump in Other Taxes. The new budget anticipates that foreign-worker levies will provide S$0.85 billion more.
However those companies who are over-reliant of foreign workers, and demonstrate little desire to redress the balance between local employees and foreigners, will see a significant hike in foreign worker levies and face stricter allowances for imported labour.
All of which would seem to suggest that the Government is taking on board local discontent about the rapid influx of foreign workers; recent election trends making this a necessity.
In more positive vein, Minister Grace Fu has released figures showing that 20,693 people took up Singapore citizenship, surely the most tangible evidence of commitment to the country.
Many had opted the "try before you buy" approach with half of the newly-hatched citizenry staying more than ten years in Singapore before they took the plunge. Not that there is anything inherently wrong with that. It's a big step in anyone's life. 27,521 people became PRs over the same period.
And, although it is not a welfare state (and has wisely determined that it never shall be) there is increased social spending in the new budget.
But the primary focus for the year ahead is to increase productivity on which the very fabric of Singapore society depends. It's a big worry for the ruling party that productivity actually fell 2.6% last year. In 2011 there was growth of 1.3%.
Such a decline will partially offset by clobbering the wealthy with higher taxes. If you own a Maserati and live in luxury accommodation you are in for an unpleasant surprise. Your property taxes might rise by as much as 69%.