I’ve lamented the ‘uselessness’ of the annual Budget ‘Debate’, because basically, no Govt has ever had to compromise with the Opposition—or even with its own MP’s—to get a Budget passed. But I now see the Budget Debate for what it really is.
It’s not about the Budget at all.
It’s about policy, or more specifically, major policy changes.
The Budget is that one time of the year when the Govt takes the chance to change course, introduce new policies, scrap useless ones, launch new initiatives. It’s their one chance to show they are listening to the people of Singapore, so they can be re-elected.
Hence, the opposition, if it is to win the hearts and minds of voters, has to engage the PAP in robust policy debate during the Budget. Not just beg Ah Kong to extend a rebate here or a subsidy there. But really truly criticise PAP’s policy fundamentals while presenting their own approaches and be able to triumph in the robust debate that is sure to follow.
Because while the rest of the 10 months in a year comprises dry Parliament sessions aimed at passing various Bills and Amendments, the Budget Debate is when it must engage the PAP in mortal kombat, if it is serious about forming a new Govt in Singapore.
The Budget Debate is where policies should be scrutinised, party philosophies should clash, and hearts and minds should be won.