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Acronyms alive and well in Singapore

13 Feb 2009

Besides speaking the charming, unique “Singlish”, residents of this wealthy island-state have also perfected the art of slipping in acronyms in their conversation.

Visitors have had to pick up fast on these terms or be left in the dark.

Long part of the local vocabulary have been staples such as ERP (the dreaded Electronic Road Pricing), PIE (the important Pan Island Expressway), HDB (the most common type of housing accommodation), COE (the coveted Certificate of Entitlement programme restricting car ownership) and LKY (Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s legendary statesman, addressed as “MM” or Minister Mentor) among others.

Now comes a fresh batch of initials spurred by the government’s S$13.7 billion (US$9.1 billion) financial stimulus package. The titles were described by national daily, The Straits Times as almost  “comical”, adding, however, that these lightened up the somber mood in the parliament.

Singapore became the first nation in Asia-Pacific to declare a recession in October 2008. The government believes it may not emerge from the economic doldrums this year, and hence, the massive relief measures.

So travellers, keep in mind the list below and impress your Singaporean friends or business associates.

BOOST – “Building on Opportunities to Strengthen Tourism”, a S$60 (US$40) million plan to enhance Singapore’s tourism further as the Singapore Tourism Board expects a drop in tourist arrivals to around 9 million this year.

BUILD –  “Business Upgrading Initiatives for Long-term Development”, a S$134 million (US$89 million) fund to help small and medium-sized enterprises become more competitive through capability development.

PREP-UP – “Preparing for the Upturn”, a S$67 million (US44) basket of training schemes which aims to help companies develop personnel in science and technology through funding programmes such as on-the-job training for new graduates.

SPUR –  “Skills Programme for Upgrading and Resilience”, launched in December, helps companies retrain workers, save jobs, and cut companies’ retraining costs.

YES! – “Young Entrepreneur Scheme”, aids young Singaporeans nurture innovative startups by giving them cash from a S$16 million (US$10 million) Entrepreneurial Talent Development Fund.

Margie T Logarta

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