What You Need To Know About Singapore Budget 2019
Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat has delivered the Budget statement on Monday, February 18. The total expenditure this year is expected to be S$80.3 billion, 1.6% higher than in 2018.
Senior spending and healthcare was an area of focus this year. As expected, Mr Heng unveiled details of the Merdeka Generation Package that is set to benefit close to 500,000 Singaporeans. Under the package, eligible seniors will receive a S$100 top-up to their PAssion Silver cards, a MediSave top-up of S$200 per year for five years, additional subsidies for outpatient care, additional MediShield Life premium subsidies and an additional participation incentive of S$1,500 for joining CareShield Life (an enhancement of the current ElderShield Scheme).
This year, Singaporeans will also benefit from enhanced Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS) subsidies. CHAS will be extended to cover Singaporeans for chronic conditions, regardless of income. There will also be increased subsidies for complex chronic conditions.
To commemorate Singapore’s bicentennial milestone, a S$1.1 billion Bicentennial Bonus was introduced. Under the bonus, Singaporeans will enjoy a 50% personal income tax rebate, subject to a cap of S$200 for the Year of Assessment 2019. Other things to look forward to include GST Cash Vouchers of up to S$300 for lower-income Singaporeans, an additional 10% Workfare Income Supplement (WIS) payments for lower-income workers and top-ups to Edusave accounts, Post-Secondary Education Accounts and CPF accounts for eligible Singaporeans.
The Budget this year also placed emphasis on economic transformation. The government expects to spend S$4.6 billion over the next three years to help our workers “thrive amid industry and technological disruption” and to support our firms in building deep enterprise capabilities.
On the other hand, frequent travellers may not be too happy about this year’s statement. The GST import relief for travellers will be tightened from April 1, 2019. For travellers who spend less than 48 hours overseas, the GST import relief will be reduced from S$150 to S$100. For travellers who spend 48 hours overseas, they must pay GST on goods valued at S$500 – this minimum has been lowered from S$600. The alcohol duty-free concession for travellers has tightened from three litres to two litres as well.
For more information, take a look at the infographic for key highlights from Budget 2019.