Finance Minister of Singapore Heng Swee Keat has doled out a massive Bicentennial Bonus worth SGD1.1 billion to Singaporeans in the budget which was presented in Parliament. The bonus is being given to commemorate 200 years of arrival of the founding father Sir Stamford Raffles on the island.
Presenting the budget, Heng said, “With this bonus, I hope all Singaporeans, young and old, will join us to commemorate this significant moment in Singapore’s history.”
The Bicentennial bonus has several components, including a GST voucher for lower-income Singaporeans and a personal income tax rebate.
The GST voucher will help lower-income Singaporeans with their daily expenses. About 1.4 million people will benefit from a GST Voucher – Cash (Bicentennial Payment), of up to SGD300.
In addition to this, GST voucher will also be given to lower-income workers. The workers receiving Workfare Income Supplement (WIS) payments will also get Workfare Bicentennial Bonus. They will receive an additional 10 per cent of their WIS payment for work done in 2018, with a minimum payment of SGD100 in cash.
Heng has also provided relief to all tax resident individuals as they will be granted a personal income tax rebate of 50 per cent, subject to a cap of SGD200, for income earned in 2018.
The Finance Minister observed that this cap was set so that the benefits go mostly to middle-income earners.
Budgetary provisions have also been made to the parents for supporting their children’s education. There will be a SGD150 top-up to the Edusave accounts of all Singaporean students at primary and secondary school levels. This is on top of the annual Edusave contributions the Government already makes.
For teenagers in the age-group of 17 to 20, Government will give SGD500 in their Post-Secondary Education Accounts, if they do not receive benefit from the Edusave top-up.
About 570,000 students will benefit from the government’s measure and it will cost upto SGD140 million.
Singaporeans who are in the age group of 50 to 64 years and who have less than SGD60,000 of retirement savings in their CPF accounts will receive a top-up to their CPF accounts of up to SGD1,000.
This top-up is expected to benefit about 300,000 Singaporeans, the majority of whom will be women.
In addition to this, a SGD200 million Bicentennial Community Fund will be set up to encourage Singaporeans to give back to the community. This fund will provide dollar-for-dollar matching for donations made to Institutions of a Public Character (IPCs) in financial year 2019.