By Kor Kian Beng
YOUTH will be specially courted when Reach starts gathering the views of Singaporeans on the Budget to be announced by Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam on Thursday.
To attract them, the Government's official feedback arm has set up an interactive page on its website.
Called Youth Vibes, it is run by young Reach members and features various sections that allow youth to post their comments and blog entries.
Reach chairman Amy Khor said the new move is part of its commitment to engage younger Singaporeans - 15 to 25 years old - in the feedback process from an early age.
She told The Straits Times: "There's often talk of Singaporean youth being apathetic, but we believe in giving them the opportunity to voice their opinions, and the Budget is one of them."
Through the feedback process, Dr Khor hopes that young people will become more interested in what is happening in Singapore and gain a better understanding of how policies are implemented.
The discussions on Youth Vibes will be helmed and driven largely by Reach's Junior Ambassadors, who will post discussion threads on Budget issues that are close to the hearts of youth or will have an impact on them, she added.
Singaporeans in general can also have their say on the Budget through a plethora of feedback channels in the feedback exercise, which runs from today until Jan 30.
It is held in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance.
Besides gathering feedback through SMS, e-mail and phone, Reach will hold a public forum and a series of radio talkshows and interactive webchats tomorrow.
These will let Singaporeans chat with ministers and MPs about the Budget.
Dr Khor and her two vice-chairmen, Dr Maliki Osman and Mrs Josephine Teo, will take calls from listeners in two radio talkshows in the morning.
At 7.30pm, Acting Manpower Minister Gan Kim Yong and Dr Khor will chair a public forum at The Grassroots Club in Ang Mo Kio.
Senior Minister of State for Finance and Transport Lim Hwee Hua and Minister of State for Trade and Industry Lee Yi Shyan will take part in two e-townhall webchats in the evening, in a bid to attract overseas Singaporeans.
More details are available on the Reach website at www.reach.gov.sg
Dr Khor expects Singaporeans to show significant interest in the post-Budget exercise, given the response in Reach's pre-Budget consultation exercise late last year.
It received almost 600 inputs.
Describing post-Budget feedback as "equally invaluable", she said the responses would help the Government to not only refine existing policies but also formulate news ones to benefit Singaporeans.
This article was first published in The Straits Times on January 22, 2009.