Singapore Budget 2011 was announced by Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam last Friday.
The full Singapore Budget 2012 can be downloaded here.
Apart from the changes affecting companies, what would be some of the changes or initiatives what would affect individual Singaporeans either directly or indirectly?
Here’s a quick summary of some of them:
- An acknowledgement that “increasing dependence on foreign workers is not sustainable” as it “will test the limits of our space and infrastructure”. There will be a reduction in the number of foreigners by means of a reduction in the Dependency Ratio Ceilings (DRCs).
- Giving employers of older workers (above 50 years old) a Special Employment Credit (SEC) of 8% of wages for the next five years to encourage them to hire older workers.
- CPF contribution rates for workers of 50 – 65 years old to be raised from September 2012.
- Exemption of GST for purchase of investment grade gold and other precious metals.
- Adding 800 buses over the next 5 years with the government funding 550 of the buses.
- Double income tax relief for those aged 55 and above to be effect from Year of Assessment 2013.
- A Silver Housing Bonus of $20,000 for older Singaporeans who sell their existing flats and buy a 3-room or smaller flat.
- A doubling of the incentive from $10,000 to $20,000 for people who take up the Lease Buyback Scheme. This scheme is for people who wish to monetize part of the value of their HDB unit without selling it. This is done by selling part of the lease back to the government. Remember that you do not own the HDB flat that you bought, it is a 99-year old leasehold apartment.
- An increase in healthcare expenditure which will see 30% more hospital beds and 100% more community hospital beds by 2020. Looking at the acute shortage of hospital beds today due to our expanding population, I feel that the adding of capacity should be of utmost importance.
- More subsidies for long term care and absorption of GST. A good start but I hope the GST waiver can be extended to more areas in the future. At the moment, it is waived for B2 and C patients.
- An enhancement of the benefits of Medishield and also extending its coverage limit from 85 years old to 90 years old. Due to the enhanced coverage, premiums will also go up. There will be a one-time Medisave top-up of $50 to $400 (depending on your age) for those who are currently on Medishield.
- More education financial assistance for children from the lower income families.
- A GST voucher of $100 or $250 for those earning an annual income of less then or equal to $24,000.
- A Medisave topup of $150 to $450 for those who are 65 years old and above and whose annual value of home is not more than $20,000.
- Permanent annual utility rebates from $180 to $260 for those who stay in HDB units.
Overall, I find this year’s budget has a lot of emphasis on the elderly. With the cost of living escalating, a lot will need to be done to meet the retirement needs of our elderly who were pioneers in our nation building.