What’s so good about Budget 2017?

Apparently Minister Chan Chun Sing had some strong words for opposition Members of Parliament during Day 2 of the Budget 2017 debate in Parliament last week.

Responding to comments by the Workers’ Party’s Leon Perera on how the various price increases seemed “more synchronised to the political cycle than to the economic cycle, Mr Chan said that the national Budget system is designed in a way that every term of Government has to earn its keep.

He also defended accusations from the Workers’ Party members that the Government was ignoring the short-pains of the economy – “If this is so, why did Minister Heng Swee Keat announce targeted measures to help specific sectors like offshore and marine…why spend all that we spent for that increase in U-Save rebates, to make sure that even though prices may increase on average, we will take care of the lower-income first?”

Obviously, there is a lack of understanding of how the Singapore Government helps its citizens through this year’s Budget, what more in times like this.

Photo credits: (MOF)

Indeed if you look at just helping households with their expenses, the Government is pumping more money towards

  • increasing GST vouchers in the form of U-save
  • one-off Cash Special Payment
  • extending and increasing the Service & Conservancy Charges
  • Personal Income Tax Rebates
  • And top ups to other funds

On top of that the government is also spending more money to deepen its citizen’s capabilities to operate overseas and to acquire and use deep skills.

Hong Kong had also recently announced their Budget for 2017.

Quite similarly, the Hong Kong government is also spending money to help its citizens in areas such as strengthening vocational and professional education and training. (Sounds like our Skillsfuture doesn’t it?)

If you think we’re the only ones getting a form of Personal Income Tax Rebate, then you’re wrong. Hong Kong is reducing its salaries tax by 75% subject to a ceiling of $20,000.

On the community front, Singapore is setting up a Disability Caregiver Support Centre to provide caregiver training and peer support to caregivers of persons with disabilities. On the other hand, Hong Kong is providing a raise of the disabled dependent allowance to $75,000.

Yes, if you happen to focus on only the negatives, then yes, Budget 2017 does seem like a lot of costs are going up. But it is evident that in these trying times, there are forms of help and support that the government is giving out to assist Singaporeans with their cost of living and these are comparable and maybe even better than countries on par with Singapore.

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Arthur Lee

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