SINGAPORE - While this year's Budget should be lauded for achieving various social aims, it appears that one group has been left out in the cold - businesses.

This was a point raised by Member of Parliament (MP) Inderjit Singh (Ang Mo Kio GRC) during the second day of the Budget debate yesterday, when he also said that the issue of rising costs firms here face was "completely ignored".

Pointing out that companies have to contend with a "triple whammy" this year - of escalating rents and utilities costs, rising wages, as well as a manpower crunch - Mr Singh said: "We are just trying to do too many things too fast."

He added that, if not managed well, rising costs could force more firms to exit Singapore, a situation which could "risk hollowing (out) our economy".

Mr Singh then urged the Government to tackle the "root cause" of the issue with "more permanent solutions for cost reduction", rather than spend large sums of money on helping firms offset these costs.

He also suggested it buy back some real-estate investment trusts to regain its influence over industrial rental prices, which had shifted due to its land-divestment policy.

Moulmein-Kallang GRC MP Denise Phua suggested that the Government roll out cooling measures for commercial rents.

Nee Soon GRC MP Lee Bee Wah said that more should be done to "reduce the red tape" in the payout processes for schemes such as the Productivity and Innovation Credit, which can make managing cash flow "very difficult" for small and medium-sized enterprises.

Yesterday, several of the 25 MPs who spoke said that members of the public have a part to play.

Noting that some young Singaporeans "give priority to (only) work-life balance, a high salary or other benefits", Nominated MP Nicholas Fang said: "We have to take pride in developing expertise and flair in every vocation. This will play a crucial part in ensuring that our economy stays competitive and continues to improve in the years ahead."