SINGAPORE, 20 FEBRUARY 2017 – The Budget 2017 looks sets to be a hopeful one. Minister for Finance Mr Heng Swee Keat laid out his plans to help Singaporean tackle an increasingly complex global environment, while also promising more measures to help reduce environmental impact even as we continue to develop our economy and deepen our roots. Of note is the commitment by government to help Singaporeans step up to the world arena, through the creation of enterprise support centres, wage support for older workers, funding for training, as well as co-investments in new business opportunities.
The Budget also brings immediate impact to the man-in-the-street; most saliently, water prices will be increasing by a good chunk. Motorcycles and diesel vehicles will also cost more to own and run. As always, the Government will be attempting to soften the impact with increased grants and payouts – some one-off, others permanent.
Said Mr Rohith Murthy, Managing Director of SingSaver.com.sg, “We see this as a multi-vitamin budget – from economy and workforce to housing grants and bursaries, Mr Heng has announced plans not only for businesses but also the common man. With markets overseas experiencing increased protectionism, Singapore is taking a refreshingly open and enterprising stance. We’re excited to see the changes these measures will no doubt bring.”
In case you missed the live broadcast, here’s a brief summary of Budget 2017, by the numbers:
Social – Boosts to Charity, Sports and Culture
- Additional funding, up to S$100 million in total, to further develop the capabilities of our VWOs and charities.
- S$6 million given to self-help groups to help needy families and children.
- S$50 million set aside to expand Sports-In-Precinct Programme, so that more Singaporeans can play sports near their homes. The SportCares Programme will also be expanded, to help disadvantaged youth to discover their strengths through sports.
- S$50 million in grants will be given to help aspiring athletes. The government will also match sports donations dollar-for-dollar, up to $50 million
- Donations to cultural institutions will also be matched dollar-for-dollar, up to a total of S$150 million.
Healthcare – Enhanced Support for Persons with Disabilities and Mental Health Conditions
- S$160 million in the next five years to help those with mental health conditions. MOH will provide mental health care services in polyclinics and more will be done to educate people on mental health issues.
- S$400 million per year on initiatives to integrate Persons with Disabilities into the workforce and provide more support for their caregivers.
Household Expenses – Over S$850 million in Enhanced Support for Homes
- Water prices to increase by 30%, starting from 1 July 2017, with Sanitary Appliance Fee and Waterborne Fee merged into a single volume-based fee.
- 3 in 4 businesses will experience less than S$25 per month increase in water bills. Meanwhile, 75% of households will see less than S$18 per month increases in water bills.
- Between S$40 to S$120 more will be given out to eligible households in the form GST Voucher – U-Save Rebates. This permanent increase will benefit about 880,000 HDB households, at the cost of an additional S$71 million each year.
- Eligible Singaporeans will receive up to S$500 in a one-off GST voucher disbursement this year.
- S&CC rebate to be extended for 2017, and raised by an additional 0.5 months for eligible households.
- A one-off personal income tax rebate of up to S$500 will also be granted.
- Various funds will also be topped up: Comcare Fund – S$200 mil; Medifund – S$500 mil; GST Voucher Fund – S$1.5 bil.
Families – Helping You Buy Homes and Raise Children
- CPF Housing Grant to be increased for first-time buyer of resale HDB flats – to S$50,000 for 4-rm or smaller flats, and to S$40,000 for 5-rm and larger flats.
- Infant-care centres to be increased gradually to over 8,000 places by 2020.
- Annual bursary amounts to be increased for those attending Post-Secondary Education Institutions: S$400 for undergraduate students, up to S$350 for diploma students, and up to S$200 for ITE students.
Transport – Higher Tariffs for Motorcycle Riders
- Motorcycle Additional Registration Fees (ARF) to be increased for more expensive models. For motorcycles with OMV up to S$5,000 – 15%; next S$5,000 – 50%; and beyond S$10,000 – 100%.
Environment – Breath Easier with Carbon and Diesel Tax
- New carbon tax to be implemented from 2019. This will tax emitters of greenhouse gases between S$10 to S$20 per tonne of gas.
- Diesel tax to be restructured into volume duty of S$0.10 per litre. Annual Diesel Tax on cars and taxis to be reduced permanently by S$100 and S$850 respectively. For commercial diesel vehicles: 100% road tax rebates for 1 year and partial road tax rebate for a further 2 years.
- Vehicular Emissions Scheme to include 4 new pollutants from 2018.
Economy and Jobs – Over S$1.4 bil worth of support in FY2017
- S$700 mil worth of public infrastructure projects to be brought forward in FY2017 and FY2018, this is expected to benefit the construction sector.
- S$26 mil to be committed from Lifelong Learning Endowment Fund and Skills Development Fund to help train workers for jobs in emerging sectors that show promise.
- S$600 mil under the Wage Credit Scheme is expected to be paid out to businesses next month; SMEs make up over 70% of the recipients.
- Wages of older workers to see continued support till 2019, with S$300 mil paid out to firms under Special Employment Credit. Also Additional Special Employment Credit will be extended for 2 more years at S$160 million. Innovative income support schemes for older workers to continue to be offered through employers.
- SME Working Capital Loan to continue to be available for next 2 years.
- Additional S$310 mil to be given out in Corporate Income Tax rebates for next 2 years. Rebate cap raised to S$25,000 for YA2017, and extended to YA2018 at reduced rate of 20%, capped at S$10,000.
Enterprise – Stepping Up to the World Stage
- Over S$80 mil Go Digital Programme to help SMEs build digital capabilities.
- New S$600 mil International Partnership Fund; government will co-invest with home-grown firms to help them scale up and internationalise.
- S$100 mil to build capabilities of Singaporeans to operate overseas under Global Innovation Alliance and Leadership Development Initiative.