Acknowledgement to the Chair, Budget 2024 — Speech by Leader of the House, Minister Indranee Rajah

PMO Ministers | 7 March 2024

Transcript of speech by Leader of the House, Minister Indranee Rajah, at the conclusion of the Committee of Supply debates for Budget 2024 on 7 March 2024.


A Budget to Build Our Shared Future Together

Mr Speaker, as is customary, the end of the annual Budget process is marked by the delivery of a speech by the Leader in acknowledgement to the Chair of the House.

This is not the first time you have presided over the Budget process, having done so in previous years as a Deputy Speaker. But this is the first time that you have done so as Speaker of the House.

You ran a tight ship, keeping close control over the process yet allowing flexibility when needed. Under your efficient management, we covered much ground in 9 days; with close to 70 hours of debate.

a. 61 members spoke for two and a half days in the debate on the Budget Statement; and

b. We covered 598 cuts over seven days of Committee of Supply.

Every year, one ministry will emerge as the “favourite” with the most number of cuts, even though this is one prize ministries prefer not to win, as it means even more work for the relevant Ministers and their team. But anyway, for the record, this year MCCY was “the 1” to win the prize – and as we know “All Too Well” now, they rose to the occasion with “Style”!

Budget 2023 was delivered on 14 February and is remembered as a Valentine’s Day Budget, especially with its family-oriented measures. This year’s Budget was delivered on 16 February, which coincidentally fell on the 7th day of the first month in the traditional Chinese calendar – also known as Ren Ri or Everyman’s birthday. This is fortuitous since Budget 2024 is a budget with something for everyone – so everyone got a birthday present under Budget 2024!

More importantly, Budget 2024 gives life and breath to the plans in the Forward Singapore Report that we as Singaporeans collectively developed to build our shared future together.

Budgets 2020-2023 helped us to get through the Covid-19 pandemic. Those budgets, including five budgets in 2020 alone, helped save lives, save jobs and enabled us to emerge stronger. But the post-pandemic world into which we emerged is very different from the one from which we entered. The world in which Budget 2024 takes place is messier, more dangerous, and more unpredictable.

a. Conflicts are raging around the world. In Gaza and Ukraine, there has been tragic loss of life. Even though these are far away, in an interconnected world, we are not unaffected.

b. As a small nation-state, we have to navigate an increasingly fragmented world order fraught with geopolitical contestation.

c. Climate change poses an existential threat for us given our small size, low-lying land, and energy constraints.

At a more personal and individual level, Singaporeans remain concerned with costs of living and inflationary pressures and other immediate concerns.

Against this backdrop, Budget 2024 provides a clear action plan to take Singapore forward into the future with optimism and hope, these challenges notwithstanding.

Budget 2024 also sets aside resources for policies that will allow us to turn challenges into opportunities, reinvigorate our workforce by helping workers find new paths and second careers, and build a Singapore that is vibrant and inclusive, fair and thriving, resilient and united.

Let me recap what we have set in motion by approving this Budget.


The enhanced Assurance Package – which includes additional CDC Vouchers for all Singaporean households, a Cost-of-Living Special Payment in cash for eligible adult Singaporeans, and additional U-Save and S&CC rebates for eligible HDB households – provides assurance to Singaporeans for cost-of-living concerns.

A vibrant, thriving, and sustainable economy

We also took decisive measures to ensure a strong, innovative and vibrant economy.

To maintain our competitive edge and ride the winds of change, we amped up support for our National AI Strategy 2.0.

In this connection, I should mention that Dr Tan Wu Meng’s speech on this topic – which took us on a masterful tour of the rapid AI advancements, and how we prepare our citizens for these changes – has attracted global attention. The clip of his post has garnered several million views across various platforms.

This is a good example showing how, although we are a small Parliament, what we say and do in this House can be noticed far beyond our shores. I encourage Members to keep up the quality of our debates and thereby the credibility of this House.

Beyond this, we have strengthened support for our companies with the $1.3 billion Enterprise Support Package, which includes a generous Corporate Income Tax Rebate, as well as enhanced schemes that support collaborations and partnerships between local and multinational enterprises, scaling up of our firms, and sustainability.

We introduced the Refundable Investment Credit to enhance our investment promotion toolkit, as global competition for investments intensifies with BEPS 2.0.

Belief in our people

With the SkillsFuture measures in Budget 2024, we have expressed our belief and confidence in our workers, as well as our confidence in their ability not only to upskill but to chart new directions even at a later age.

The new SkillsFuture Level-Up Programme – which includes the top-up in SkillsFuture Credits for Singaporeans aged 40 and above to pursue selected training programmes, the new SkillsFuture Mid-Career Training Allowance, and the opportunity to pursue another full-time diploma – are all intended to empower Singaporeans throughout their journey of lifelong learning, so they can continue to access opportunities at every stage of life, for every stage of life.

Many of these moves were informed by ground-up feedback from citizens through the Forward Singapore exercise. These measures give effect to Singaporeans’ wishes to upgrade their skills and seize new opportunities, and help them embrace a culture of lifelong learning.

Likewise, the new ITE Progression Award is an expression of our commitment to social mobility as well as our confidence and belief in our ITE graduates.

We have continued to uplift our lower-wage workers and improve wages across different professions, through the enhancements to the Workfare Income Supplement scheme and Progressive Wage Credit scheme.

By respecting and rewarding every job, we hope that these initiatives will enhance opportunities across diverse pathways, and enable all Singaporeans to progress throughout their careers.

A fair and inclusive society

We further strengthened our social compact, by providing more support to those who need it the most.

a. The ComLink+ Progress Packages will uphold social mobility and ensure that families of all backgrounds have access to full and fair opportunities.

b. We also strengthened access to justice, especially for the most vulnerable, through the civil and criminal law systems.

Families & seniors

Families are the bedrock of our society, and we have committed to supporting them through every stage of life – from providing strong foundations for the young, to enhancing the golden years of the elderly.

In this Budget we have increased support for parents – we are improving preschool affordability by reducing monthly childcare fee caps in Government-supported preschools and enhancing preschool subsidies for lower-income families. The pilot to provide affordable and reliable childminding services will give parents another caregiving option and hopefully pave the way for such services to be delivered at greater scale.

To support married couples and young families, we have ramped up the BTO supply, given them greater priority, increased the number of Parenthood Provisional Housing Scheme (PPHS) flats and will provide a PPHS (Open Market) Voucher.

For our seniors, we have made adjustments to the CPF system and strengthened the Silver Support Scheme to support their retirement needs. Young seniors will get an additional boost for their retirement through the Majulah Package.

We also set aside funds for Age Well SG, a new national programme to support seniors to age actively, stay socially connected, and be cared for in their own communities. These initiatives position us well to holistically take care of the needs of our ageing society.

Sustainable future

As the threat of climate change looms ever larger for the world and for Singapore, we have taken concrete steps towards achieving our ambitious climate target of net zero emissions by 2050, including setting up the Future Energy Fund this year with an initial injection of $5 billion to help decarbonise our energy system, and enhance our security in clean energy.

A resilient and united people

Inclusivity is the glue on which unity is built. By building on the previous budgets and having something for everyone, Budget 2024 ensures that no one is left behind. At the same time, by creating opportunities and providing catalytic assistance to encourage and amplify individual effort, we are fostering a resilient and united Singapore.


Mr Speaker, we were able to cover all these and more in a relatively short period of time due in no small part to your able Chairmanship. I thank you for your patience, professionalism, and fairness, and also commend you on your ability to remain in the Chair for extended periods without a break!

On behalf of the House, I would also like to convey our appreciation to the Clerk of Parliament, Deputy Clerk and the other Clerks of Parliament, as well as the Parliament Secretariat and staff, interpreters and translators, whose dedicated efforts and support behind the scenes over the past two weeks ensured that the proceedings went smoothly. Unlike the Members of Parliament who are seen and heard on camera, their work is unseen and often unsung. But it is only because of what they do that we as MPs can do what we need to do. We are grateful for their hard work.

Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, and congratulations on your successful maiden Budget and Committee of Supply.