Riding on a surplus budget, the government of Singapore has decided to give up to SGD300 ($228.50, Sh29,000) to its adult citizens. The “hongbao” or monetary gift will be given to Singaporeans who are above 21 years of age, based on their assessable income.
“In 2018, all Singaporeans aged 21 years and above in 2018 will receive an SG Bonus cash payment of up to SGD 300. The SG Bonus will be paid out to about 2.7 million recipients in end-2018,” Annexure C-2 of the budget document read.
People who have income up to SGD 28,000 will be given SGD 300, with income from SGD 28,001 to SGD 100,000 will be given SGD 200 and people who earn more than SGD 100,000 will be gifted SGD 100, finance minister of Singapore Heng Swee Keat announced in his budget speech on Monday.
This will cost the government in tune of SGD 700 million. Singapore expects an overall budget surplus of SGD 9.6 billion or 2.1 percent of the GDP of the city-state for FY2017. This is higher than the SGD 1.9 billion or 0.4 percent of GDP forecasted a year ago.
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“The increase of SGD 7.7 billion is mainly due to exceptional Statutory Board contributions of SGD 4.6 billion, and increased stamp duty collections of SGD 2 billion due to the recent property market pick-up,” Keat said, adding that the government does not expect these surpluses to occur every year.
Of the total surplus, SGD 5 billion has been set aside for rail infrastructure fund which will be used to develop the new rail lines the country is working on. SGD 2 billion has been set aside for “premium subsidies and other forms of support for Singaporeans.”
A part of the fund will also be used for ElderShield, an insurance scheme that helps senior citizens with severe disabilities to cope with the financial demands of their daily care. The Singapore government already pays its eligible citizens — particularly from the low-income group and senior citizens—in form of multiple vouchers and rebates.