“Election lai liao”, and other stuff to roll your eyes to

Budget 2018

The annual national Budget is a massive plan, followed by a Committee of Supply debate to direct the country’s expenditure for the year. It is the next most important speech following the National Day Rally and its components is a vast, complex sea of numbers. It is looking at the past, present and future at the same time across various textures of Singaporeans.

It is not an easy thing to navigate, but some people think that they know it all just by reading a few headlines or coming up with ridiculous hypothesis.

Here are a few to amuse you:

Election coming liao!

Budget is announced year in, year out and they’re always distributing something whenever there’s a surplus. In the 90s it was called the New Singapore Shares. Then the names started to get fancier, but it is nothing out of the ordinary and doesn’t signify an election.

And what’s more, Singaporeans keep saying elections are coming but analysts say otherwise… who’s right now?

S-pass will mean reduced rental income 

In the last two years, there have been about 180k S-Pass holders in Singapore. A reduction of 5% over two years gives a very rough number of about 10,000 people. 

This number is not large and is not likely to impact the rentals market in a big way – the rentals market is much, much larger than that. 

There’s nothing for me

Well, then that’s good isn’t it? If you don’t qualify for any of the packages, vouchers and cash – then it only points to one thing: you’re amongst the better off in the country and your tax money goes to helping others.

Wah carbon tax, diesel tax see la – gahmen need money is it?

Taxes have two purposes: one is to raise money, the other is that of a regulatory function. Carbon taxes and such do not fetch substantial amounts of income for redistribution, in fact there’s so much administration to be done to authorise their collection. 

Heavy vehicle parking spaces in Singapore

Eh – I low wage worker leh, nothing for me!

If you’re looking for a direct cash handout, then no… Singapore doesn’t work that way (that said, for certain income brackets there is a cash component). We’re a country that solves problems instead of merely nursing it.

So that said, check this out:

  • Professional Conversion Programes
  • Another round of SkillsFuture credits 
  • Programes to make working life better for older workers
  • Special Employment Credit extension
  • Workfare Income Supplement scheme 
  • A Workfare Bicentennial Bonus
  • $300 GST Voucher
  • $1000 (up to) CPF top ups

If you want to know how they operate, in the spirit of self-help, do a quick search on the internet, there is plenty of material online. 

Why defence spend so much? 

To the uninitiated, a country’s defence spending isn’t merely just going out to buy weapons, bombs and paying salaries. There is strategic spending, which means spending as a show of force. There is diplomacy, which is preventing wars from ever happening in the first place. 

Moreover, aggressors are becoming more and more complex. Intelligence attacks, cyber attacks and decentralised, self-radicalising terrorist threats are a real and present danger to our daily lives. 

Oh, and let’s not look further than that of our friendly neighbours  whom are testing our security efforts whenever they can. Should they ever be allowed to enclose us in a box, cut off our transport channels – Singapore might as well be dead.

Why the middle income and low income pay GST still!

Yes – middle/low income also pay GST. But they get something that the high income earners don’t – rebates. This is the government telling you that they don’t want your money. 

There are two kinds of people that the Goverment needs to outsmart: rich people and rich people pretending to be poor. It is no use giving simple tax cuts, there needs to be programs to prevent people from abusing the system and protecting those who really need it.

Right pocket left pocket again…

Of course – that’s what Government Budgets are all about. Government takes from the citizenry and redistributes the funds for the betterment of the country. But you know what we should be happy about? That there is something in the pockets to pass left and right. 

Ok, I admit that I’m not really knowledgeable on the mechanics of country management. Tell me what’s so special about this Budget? 

It is ok to say that the Budget mechanism itself is nothing special. There really isn’t anything special about collecting income and redistributing it. It’s just like your family; sometimes you make more money, your family gets to go on holiday or gets to eat better meals. Sometimes funds are tight and everyone tightens the budget. 

We have a bad habit of looking out for freebies – but hey, these aren’t free; we pay our own taxes to help ourselves. Instead of treating it like an “Ang Pow” exercise, it would do your being much good to see which groups of people the government is concerned with.

The aged, the poor, national spirit, helping our workers, building a strong citizenry – this is the theme of the country year in and year out. And we have mechanisms to combat a deficit (google for GIC, Temasek and NIRC to understand more).

Isn’t that special enough already?

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