Another year and another long two and a half hour budget reading. It’s a pretty different Budget than what we have come to see over the last few years. These past few years, we have often seen Budget announcements which were focused on building up social safety nets and improving the quality of life in Singapore.

This year, the focus has shifted towards transforming and restructuring the economy. But the budget was also a continuation of policies from previous years, such as the previously introduced Silver Support Scheme and further enhancements to the Workfare Income Supplement (WIS) Scheme.

But why the shift in focus?

Looking at economic news from around the world, one can guess why the economy has a big focus for Singapore. With our very open economy, it is very likely that the slowdown in China, the continuing downturn in Europe and the sluggishness of the US economy will continue to hurt Singapore’s economy.

Hence, while social policies are still an important part of the budget this year, economic policies have taken centre stage to keep our local small and medium enterprises in business and ensure that people have jobs in this frosty economic climate.

First, the Corporate Income Tax rebate will be raised from 30 per cent of tax payable to 50 per cent, with a cap of $20,000 rebate each year for Year of Assessment 2016 and 2017. This would hopefully lower the cost of doing business and keep them in business. Afterall, the small and medium businesses are often regarded as the lifeblood of the economy.

Beyond that, also announced was the extension of the Special Employment Credit (SEC) scheme, which subsidised older (55 and above) workers earning up to S$4,000 a month. But of course, the talk of the town is probably more GST vouchers for those that qualify. Afterall, who doesn’t mind some free cash.

It was probably a good Budget for businesses, parents and upgrading our infrastructure but these are things that are hard to observe.

One last thought… Why are there so many compound words in his speech? Seriously, are there really no better names for the policies? SkillsFuture… TechSkills… KidStart… wow…