This post is part of the series Budget 2017
Other posts in this series:
- Budget 2017: The National Budget Process (Current)
- Will we see a Budget which spends more than what we have?
- Three reasons to cheer the Early Childhood Development Centres Act
TL-DR – Tis the (budget) season.
The budget season’s upon us again. Minister for Finance, Heng Swee Keat, will be delivering the Budget Statement this coming Monday (20 Feb 2017) at 3:30PM.
Let’s take the weekend to learn about this important process that happens every year.
What is the Singapore Budget about?
The Singapore budget is about how the government plan its revenue and spending for the financial (or some say fiscal) year. And for Singapore, our fiscal year runs from 1 April to 31 March of the following year.
The Budget Feedback Process
Many rounds of discussion are held within the Ministry of Finance (MOF) and also with other ministries and agencies. The main things that the Government may consider include: What are the national priorities and challenges? What trade-offs need to be made? Are the plans financially viable?
Before drawing up the Budget Statement, other than the ministries and agencies, MOF will also organise its public consultation process. The idea is to gather ground feedback and also allow budget-related discussions to be open for wider public debate. Other than setting up different avenues like dialogue sessions, listening posts and online engagement for members of the public, MOF also takes in recommendations from stakeholders, such as business and unions.
These feedback and suggestions provide MOF with an overall glimpse of current concerns, and these are useful input to MOF when shaping the eventual Budget line-up.
The National Budget Process
Here is a quick summarised view of the budget process.
So Step 2 is happening on Monday afternoon (20 Feb), where the Minister for Finance will deliver the Budget Statement to Parliament. There is usually keen interest from all quarters, as businesses may look out for programmes to support their growth plans whilst households and individuals may look out for schemes to better manage the rising cost of living.
In the week after the Budget Statement, Parliament will reconvene for the Budget debate, where we will see MPs addressing different aspects of the latest Budget Statement. This will be followed by a Round Up Speech by the Finance Minister which aims to clarify the MPs’ queries and reiterate the main thrusts of the Budget.
Step 3 is where Parliament sits as a Committee of Supply (COS) to examine the plans for each ministry. You will often hear the MPs ask for ‘cuts’ of some ministries’ budget as they rise to highlight certain issues under the specific ministry’s care. Once this process is done, COS will vote on the Supply Bill.
Step 4 is when the Supply Bill is passed.
Step 5 is when the Supply Bill is sent to the President for assent. As you all know, our President is responsible for protecting Singapore’s past reserves. He can withhold his assent to the Supply Bill if he believes that the estimated expenditure may draw on past reserves.
Assuming that the President assents (which means approve or agree) to the Supply Bill, the bill is then enacted into a law called the Supply Act. The Supply Act controls the government’s spending in the new financial year. This last part is Step 6 and completes the national budget process.
So there you have it, Singapore’s Budget Process.
Continue reading this series:
Will we see a Budget which spends more than what we have?