Mumbai: All adult Singapore citizens — aged 21 and older — will receive a one-off “SG bonus” of up to 300 Singapore dollars (about Rs 14,700) depending on their income as the government is expected to end the year 2017-18 with its largest surplus in three decades, the Straits Times reported. Finance minister Heng Swee Keat made the announcement during his budget speech in Parliament, describing the bonus as a “hongbao”, the Mandarin word for a monetary gift given on special occasions.
“This hongbao reflects the government’s longstanding commitment to share the fruits of Singapore’s development with Singaporeans,” the finance minister said.
The surplus for 2017-18 is expected at around 9.61 billion Singapore dollars (Rs 47,211 crore), around 2.1 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP). The “SG Bonus” will cost the government 700 million Singapore dollars (Rs 3,438 crore).
Those with an income of 28,000 Singapore dollars or below will be eligible to receive 300 Singapore dollars, those whose incomes ranging from 28,001 Singapore dollars to 100,000 Singapore dollars will receive 200 Singapore dollars, and those with incomes in excess of 100,000 Singapore dollars will receive 100 Singapore dollars. the newspaper reported.
Singapore’s revised budget for fiscal 2017 showed a surplus of $9.61 billion Singapore dollars, thanks to contributions from statutory boards and higher-than-expected stamp duty.
It will be the first time since 2011 that the government is handing out cash bonuses to Singaporeans. In 2011, which was also an election year, 2.5 million Singaporeans aged 21 and above were given “growth dividends” of between 100 Singapore dollars and 800 Singapore dollars, which cost the government 1.5 billion Singapore dollars. Prior to that, the government gave out dividends of between 100 Singapore dollars and 400 Singapore dollars in 2008, Channel NewsAsia reported.
Heng said that 5 billion Singapore dollars will be set aside for the Rail Infrastructure Fund, to save up for the new rail lines that Singapore is building. Also, 2 billion Singapore dollars will be set aside for premium subsidies and other forms of support when the ElderShield — an insurance scheme that helps senior citizens with severe disabilities to cope with the financial demands of their daily care — review is complete.
He said spending needs will rise across various sectors in coming years, including in healthcare, infrastructure and security. The government expects average annual healthcare spending to rise from 2.2 per cent of GDP currently, to almost 3 per cent of GDP over the next decade, he added.