Singapore Budget 2014 seen as "budget of social transformation"
Less focus on taxes, more on people
The recently unveiled Singapore budget for 2014 was proclaimed by PwC analysts as a "budget of social transformation" for its focus on shaping and steering the populace to a new era.
Chris Woo, Partner, PwC Singapore, said the Singapore Budget 2014 is: "A budget of social transformation: Change habits & social practices to elevate our productivity. It demonstrates our embrace of the tight labour market. Witnessing greater shifts of help to our pioneers, better education for all, affordable healthcare and needs of the disabled. This is the start of the reinvention of Singapore. A great start as we turn 50."
Meanwhile, Abhijit Ghosh, Partner, PwC Singapore, added that it is: "A rainbow budget - spreading colour across social and economic horizon by providing more support for raising productivity, enhancing social equity and achieving quality growth."
The Miracle of the Singapore Budget 2014
The Singapore budget held many goodies. The centre piece pioneer generation healthcare benefits have been extensively revised to the tune of a S$8 (US$6.3) billion fund set aside for their healthcare needs for the rest of their lives.
MediShield for the unacquainted is the national health insurance plan for Singapore. This scheme will be extended to cover all Singaporeans and renamed MediShield Life as announced last year. While a good quarter of the older population (65 and over) had previously not been covered, this will now not just include them but also for the whole pioneer generation, outright cash subsidies to pay the premiums for the national healthcare insurance will be given and other subsidies or extensions given for outpatient treatment. This is to ensure it remains affordable. (Pioneer generation refers to Singaporeans from age 65 and above at the end of this year and having obtained citizenship from 1986 and earlier).
MediShield Life will cover all pre-existing conditions which is a marked change from Medishield. In other words, even if someone has for example had cancer before being covered and then develops another cancer after being in remission, a reasonably likely scenario given the nature of cancer, the patient can be covered under this revised insurance plan. Presumably coverage for say a second heart attack when the first had already been covered under this scheme is also in place.
Singapore Budget 2014 focuses on building 'fair and equitable society': Tharman
A fair and equitable society
That’s what the Singapore government is hoping to achieve with the 2014 Budget, said Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam in his speech in Parliament on Friday afternoon.
As expected by many, Tharman gave details on a “Pioneer Generation” package which was announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong earlier this month.
The package, to recognise the contributions pioneers have made to the nation, will apply to all Singaporeans who were at least 16 years old in 1965, when Singapore became independent, and citizens by 1987.
Budget 2014 is about doing the right thing
The Pioneer Generation Package recognises that the State has a vital role to play in caring for the elderly. Today File Photo
The Government has wisely ring-fenced the hefty S$8 billion cost by budgeting for it in its entirety in Budget 2014. This means that the PGP will not appear as a line item in future Budgets, and future governments and generations will not have to bear the responsibility of financing it. Whatever changes come in the next two to three decades, there is money in the kitty to ensure the endeavour to care for our pioneers is not merely a politically expedient one.
The People’s Action Party (PAP) Government should reap political dividends from the PGP, as those aged 65 years and above constitute a valuable vote bank. This is the “3-to-1” generation — Singaporeans who lived the “Third World to First World” Singapore Story and can most easily identify with the PAP government, but who in recent years have become concerned with the rising costs of living and the sense that the country’s success may have passed them by.
No political party wants older voters to caution their children and grandchildren to not vote for it; conversely, renewed trust in the party and a good word by the pioneer generation could pay political dividends. I would not begrudge such political pay-offs because, quite simply, creating the PGP was the right thing to do.
Plenty of goodies, but implementation is key, say panellists at roundtable
(From left) MR HO MENG KIT CEO, Singapore Business Federation; MS GAN KWEE LIAN Tax partner, KPMG; MR JIMMY KOH UOB's head of economic-treasury research and investor relations; MS FIONA CHAN ST's senior economics correspondent; DR MARY ANN TSAO Chairman, Tsao Foundation; MR JEREMY LIM Head of Asia-Pacific health and life sciences at Oliver Wyman and; DR LILY NEO Member of Parliament. -- ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG
This year's Budget brings welcome relief for elderly Singaporeans, workers and companies alike, but the devil will be in the details.
Panellists at The Straits Times Budget Roundtable last Saturday said careful implementation will be important to make sure the benefits get to individuals and businesses in need, as some may not know how to access them.
The Pioneer Generation Package and measures to help with health-care costs in particular were welcomed, as these will lessen cost pressures on individual families and help strengthen inter-generational bonds, said Tsao Foundation chairman Mary Ann Tsao and Member of Parliament Lily Neo.
BUDGET 2014: Special Reports
Bumper health-care support package for Pioneer Generation
The much-anticipated package for Singapore's pioneer generation will give this group assistance with their health-care needs for the rest of their lives.
Budget 2014 Speech (Part 1): Economic Performance
Budget 2014 Speech (Part 2): Opportunities for the Future, Assurance for Seniors
Budget 2014 Speech (Part 3): Transforming our Economy
Budget 2014 Speech (Part 4): A Fair and Equitable Society
Budget 2014 Speech (Part 5): Other Tax Changes
Budget 2014 Speech (Part 6): Budget position and conclusion
Singapore Budget 2014 striving for "inclusive and sustainable" growth: DBS
The Singapore Budget 2014 continues to focus on reinforcing the productivity drive and strengthening the social safety net so as to ensure that growth is inclusive and sustainable, according to DBS senior economist Irvin Seah.
"Productivity growth continues to be a key focus. While not deviating from the notion of alleviating the pain of restructuring through productivity enhancement, Budget 2014 is more carrot than stick," he said.
"Fostering inclusive growth remains in the spotlight. Measures were targeted towards alleviating the cost burden of the lower and middle income groups and in facilitating social mobility," he added.
Budget 2014: Deloitte Singapore's reactions and comments
"Applause to the Government for increasing the quantum for parent and handicapped parent relief; but it would be a standing ovation if child relief quantum was increased as well."
"Budget 2014 takes a more focused approach as Singapore enters into the second half of the 10-year economic restructuring exercise which began in 2010. On a solid foundation, strengthening an inclusive growth is key to enable Singapore to remain relevant and at the same time continue to move up the value chain - together."
"The elderly are given special attention especially the pioneer generation for their contributions to Singapore. The lower income groups are getting more assistance and care. The middle income groups or affectionately referred to as the sandwich class - will also be receiving help. SMEs, the bedrock of Singapore's businesses, will receive a great lift with enhanced PIC level and PIC+ to enable them to enhance their productivity through technology and innovation through R&D especially with scarce skilled resources."
Experts respond to Budget 2014
Tan Ching Ne, Research & Development Tax Partner, PwC Singapore
Personally, I'm a little bit surprised about the impact of the budget
We are running a deficit for the first time in, I believe, a number of years.
I think the government has clearly listened to calls for support for the SMEs, which is admirable and they do need support.
Efforts to improve the lot of older workers don't end with Budget 2014: labour movement
Efforts to improve the lot of older working Singaporeans do not end with Budget 2014, says the labour movement.
The government on Friday unveiled specific measures to raise the Central Provident Fund (CPF) contributions for those aged above 50.
In addition, employer CPF contribution rate will rise by one percentage point for all workers from January 2015 and the increase will go to their Medisave Accounts.
Grassroots organisations, informal groups can help spread Budget info
Singaporeans welcome govt moves to tackle healthcare affordability
Budget 2014 is about hope and opportunities: Heng Swee Keat
Singaporeans welcome govt moves to tackle healthcare affordability
Budget 2014 is about hope and opportunities: Heng Swee Keat
AWARE responds to Budget 2014 announcements
AWARE has issued a media statement in response to Budget 2014, as announced by the Finance Minister yesterday. The gender equality advocacy group agreed with many of the Budget proposals, but also pointed out several inadequacies.
These include issues related to support for caregivers and family, the ability of the Pioneer Generation package to cover the needs of other generations, and the need decouple social support from employment.
Singapore to spend heavily on elderly, have 1st budget deficit in years
Singapore expects to have its first budget deficit since 2010 in the coming fiscal year, during which the government will set aside billions to support the elderly and help low- and middle-income families.
The government unveiled on Friday a budget for 2014/15 that includes steps to support citizens born by 1949 via subsidies to help cover health care costs. It said it will set aside S$8 billion ($6.33 billion) in the fiscal year starting April 1 to help its "Pioneer Generation".
Singapore's electorate has become increasingly angry over the high cost of living and a gap between rich and poor, forcing the long-ruling People's Action Party (PAP) to re-set its goals and focus on providing more affordable healthcare and extra support measures to the less well-off.
Singapore posts higher budget surplus of S$3.9b
Singapore is expected to have an overall surplus of S$3.9 billion for FY2013, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said in his Budget 2014 Speech on Friday.
The surplus is 1.1% of GDP, and higher than the S$2.4 billion, or 0.7% of GDP, surplus a year ago.
Mr Tharman attributed the higher surplus to a few factors, including temporary delays in implementation of public infrastructure projects.
NMP EUGENE TAN: THE BUDGET SHOWS WE ARE MOVING TOWARD MORE WELFARE
Nominated Member of Parliament, Eugene Tan explained that the budget is a tool to set the direction of Singapore not just financially, but also economically, politically and socially.
He commented that the budget this year is more popular and it tends more to our "growing social needs".
While the position has shifted slightly towards more welfare, the underlying themes are still the same as previous years with productivity and reducing the reliance on foreign labour being key focuses.
$360 million to help households especially low income and retirees to cope with cost of living
The government will provide $360 million of additional support to help households especially lower-income groups and retirees cope with their cost of living
There will be a special GST Voucher - Cash: Seniors' Bonus for Singaporeans aged 55 and above - effectively doubling the amount usually received.
Finance Minister, Tharman Shanmugaratnam explains:." Older Singaporeans are broadly most affected by increase in cost of living, especially retirees with little or no incomes."
The amount they will receive range from $100 to $250 depending on an assessable income of up to $26,000.
Budget: Little one-off ‘goodies’ to help S’poreans
One-off GST Voucher–Cash: Seniors’ Bonus
During the Budget statement yesterday (21 Feb), DPM and Finance Minister Tharman announced the giving out of more “goodies” for the Singaporeans. These are one-off measures to help Singaporeans cope with the cost of living, Mr Tharman said.
He announced that the government will provide eligible Singaporean seniors with a special one-off “GST Voucher-Cash: Seniors’ Bonus”. It will effectively double the GST Voucher-Cash that the seniors usually receive. This additional cash is to help them offset some of their daily expenses.
Some 675,000 Singaporeans aged 55 and above in 2014 will be benefiting from this with each receiving a one-off cash of $100 or $250.
HIGHLIGHTS OF BUDGET 2014
Singapore's budget surplus for FY2013 is expected to be $3.9 Billion. This is equal to 1.1% of GDP and is higher than the $2.4 billion surplus that the government recorded the previous year.
He explained some of the factors that lead to this surplus, including some delays in infrastructure projects as well as more money collected from COEs. The fall in revenue from Stamp Duty was also less than expected.
Tharman explained that the surplus does not mean that there will be a looser budget in future. Instead Singaporeans should expect a tighter budget in coming years as last year's surplus is due mainly to cyclical factors.
HIGHLIGHTS-Singapore budget for fiscal 2014/15
Singapore's electorate has become increasingly angry over the high cost of living and a wide gap between rich and poor, prompting the long-ruling People's Action Party (PAP) to re-set its goals and focus on providing more affordable healthcare and extra support measures to the less well off.
The government is on a long-running programme to try to increase the productivity of Singaporean workers and reduce the country's reliance on foreign labour, whose presence riles some citizens.
Singapore, the Asia base for many Western companies and banks, has large current account surpluses and huge reserves, giving it ample room to boost spending on social services and help local firms.
Budget 2014: FY2013 Budget surplus expected at S$3.9 billion, higher than expected
Singapore's Central Business District skyline. TODAY file photo
The Republic’s Budget for FY2013 is expected to record an overall surplus of S$3.9 billion, or 1.1 per cent of the GDP for FY2013, said Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam today (Feb 21).
This is higher than the surplus of S$2.4 billion, or 0.7 per cent of the GDP, that the Government had budgeted a year ago, said Mr Tharman, who is also Finance Minister, during the Budget Speech.
He said a few factors have led to the higher surplus, such as temporary delays in the implementation of public infrastructure projects. Revenues were also boosted by higher vehicle quota premium collections, and stamp duty collections did not fall as much as expected.
Budget 2014: Govt sets up S$8b Pioneer Generation Fund for seniors
There are three components to the package - outpatient care, Medisave top-ups and life-long subsidies for MediShield Life.
Under outpatient care - those with common illnesses or chronic conditions like diabetes and hypertension will get 50 per cent off the nett bill at all specialist outpatient clinics or polyclinics - on top of subsidies. Mr Tharman said: "What this amounts to is that all pioneer generation members will get a 75 per cent to 85 per cent subsidy for treatment at specialist outpatient clinics. “Similarly the pioneer generation will receive an additional 50 per cent off their subsidised bills at polyclinics.” All eligible will also be put on the Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS). The scheme provides subsidies for medical and dental care at participating general practitioners (GPs) and dental clinics.
On Medisave top-ups - those eligible will receive annual payouts of between S$200 and S$800. Older cohorts will get more. These top-ups will be paid out from August this year.
As for MediShield Life premiums, Mr Tharman said there will be special subsidies to ensure premiums are affordable for the pioneer generation. Subsidies will increase with age - from 40 per cent at age 65 to 60 per cent at age 90. Mr Tharman said this means that a 65-year-old today, who is expected to live till 85, will get a 50 per cent subsidy over his lifetime. The target is to fully cover the MediShield Life premium of those aged 80 and above - after premium subsidies and Medisave top-ups are factored in. This will apply also to those who are currently not covered under MediShield.read more
Budget 2014: Bumper health-care support package for Pioneer Generation
Guests at the Pioneer Generation Tribute event at the Istana on Feb 9, 2014, take pictures with people dressed as pioneers from early Singapore. The much-anticipated package for Singapore's pioneer generation will give this group assistance with their healthcare needs for the rest of their lives. - ST FILE PHOTO: DESMOND FOO
First, all pioneer Singaporeans will receive annual Medisave top-ups of $200 to $800 depending on their age group.
Pioneers will also get a further 50 per cent off their bills at specialist outpatient clinics and polyclinics. Their total subsidies at specialist outpatient clinics will now amount to 75 per cent to 85 per cent of their bills.
In additional, all pioneers will also now qualify for the Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS), which subsidises private GP and dentist visits. Previously, only the lower-income could qualify for CHAS.
Budget 2014: Government posts higher-than-expected surplus of $3.9b for FY 2013
The Singapore Government is expected to record an overall surplus of $3.9 billion for financial year 2013, higher than the surplus of $2.4 billion budgeted a year ago. -- ST FILE PHOTO: DESMOND WEE
The Singapore Government is expected to record an overall surplus of $3.9 billion for financial year 2013, higher than the surplus of $2.4 billion budgeted a year ago.
Some expenditures were lower than expected. For instance, there were unexpected delays in the building of the Downtown Line due to the insolvency of one of the contractors, said Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, as he delivered the Budget statement in Parliament on Friday.
Revenues were also boosted by higher vehicle quota premium collections. This was because more replacement Certificates of Entitlement (COEs) were issued, as there were more vehicles being deregistered than expected.
Budget 2014: Tobacco, liquor duties to go up from today
Vice taxes will go up to discourage smoking and to keep pace with inflation
From today (Feb 21), excise duties for cigarettes, and other manufactured tobacco products, will go up by 10 per cent, said Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, who noted that smoking prevalence has gone up, especially among youths aged 18 to 29. This is expected to yield an extra S$70 million in revenue for the Government.
Liquor duties will be raised by 25 per cent to keep pace with inflation, and is expected to yield S$120 million more a year. The last time liquor duties were raised was 10 years ago, when the duties were brought in line with international obligations.
And from July, betting duties on lotteries will go up from 25 per cent to 30 per cent of gross bets — a move that will affect Singapore Pools, but not private clubs as they pay different duties on jackpot machine takings. This will yield S$255 million more a year.
Budget 2014: Pioneers to get yearly Medisave top-ups for life
The much anticipated Pioneer Generation Package to honour older living Singaporeans will cost the Government S$9 billion
Feverishly discussed for months, the package — which will cater to those born in 1949 or earlier, and who became a citizen before 1987 — will see all pioneers receiving Medisave top-ups of S$200 to S$800 yearly for life.
Those born between 1945 and 1949 will receive S$200 a year, while those born in 1934 and earlier will receive S$800 a year. Payouts will be made from August. They will also get subsidies for their MediShield premiums. The Government’s intent is to fully cover premiums for the MediShield Life insurance scheme for the group who will be aged 80 and above this year. Others will also get help with payment for premiums.
For outpatient care, pioneers will receive a 50 per cent discount off the net bill for subsidised services at Specialist Outpatient Clinics. This means that 75 to 85 per cent of their net bills will be covered by subsidies.
Budget 2014: One-off GST voucher announced for low- to mid-income seniors and retirees
A one-off Goods and Services Tax (GST) voucher will be introduced to help lower- and middle-income seniors and retirees cope with higher living costs. -- ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG
A one-off Goods and Services Tax (GST) voucher will be introduced to help lower- and middle-income seniors and retirees cope with higher living costs.
This Seniors' Bonus cash payout will effectively double the GST Voucher they usually receive, said Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam in his Budget speech on Friday.
Singaporeans aged 55 and older this year will benefit if their assessable income for 2013 was $26,000 or lower. If the annual value of their homes is less than $13,000, the Seniors' Bonus will be $250. The bonus will be $100 if the annual value of their home is between $13,001 and $21,000
Budget 2014: PwC Singapore reactionary comments
The extension of the PIC for another three years and the introduction of the PIC + package is not surprising given this morning's news of MTI data showing zero growth in productivity last year.
The announcement of the Cash Seniors Bonus and the U-Save Special Payment continues the government's use of the GST voucher scheme to deliver funds to the lower income group to help them cope with higher healthcare and living costs.
What is surprising about this year's Budget is the lack of any new 'wealth taxes' given recent renewed interest in the topic. What is not surprising is that the Budget is becoming more and more a social statement and less about tax changes.
Employer CPF to increase by 1% for Medisave from 2015
DPM and Finance Minister Tharman
DPM and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam announced in Parliament today (21 Feb) that employer CPF contribution rate will be increased by 1% for all workers. This will take effect in Jan 2015 next year.
The 1% increase will be channelled to the workers’ Medisave Account so as to cope with the increased healthcare expenses.
To help employers coping with the 1% increased CPF contributions, the government will give a 50% offset through a one-year Temporary Employment Credit (TEC).
MoneySmart Budget 2014 Recap: The Winners and LosersThe older generation were big winners in the 2014 Budget announcement
Here are some of the highlights when it came to healthcare:
- Pioneer Generation Package:
- All members of the Pioneer Generation will receive an extra 50% subsidy for their Specialist Outpatient treatments and Polyclinic bills.
- Members with a special Medishield
- Medishield Life subsidies will rise from 40% at age 65 to 60% at age 90
- Lower- and Middle-Income Healthcare Assistance:
- Singaporeans who receive Specialist Outpatient treatment will have their bills subsidized by 60% (middle-income) and 70% (lower-income)
- Family members with ageing parents:
- Handicapped parent relief has increased to $3,000
- Subsidies of up to 80% to offset transport expenses
- Elderly Singaporeans not included in the Pioneer Generation Package:
- Medisave top up of up to $200 per year for 5 years if you’re 55 or older
Analysis of some questionable points in budget 2014
I refer to the Budget statement that has just been delivered in Parliament.
CPF contribution rate increase by 1.5% for aged above 50 to 55? - “We will raise CPF contribution rates for those aged above 50 to 55 by 1.5 percentage points – 1 percentage point from the employer and 0.5 percentage points from the employee.”
Take-home pay decrease by 0.5%? - This means that the take-home pay of this group of workers will be reduced by 0.5%.
With the statistics indicating widespread age discrimination in that as workers age, their real pay increase decreases, particularly for lower-income workers – this may contribute further to their financial stress. “We will also raise the employer contribution rate for those aged above 55 to 65 by 0.5 percentage points.”
AN AWESOME $8B BUDGET GIVEAWAY
Everyone is wearing a smile when they spoke about the budget. Pauline Straughan appeared on a news interview like an 18 year old girl given the key of puberty. MPs were all beaming and raring to rush to MPS to tell their residents the good news. The budget was a give away, a give, give and give budget. Pioneer Generations will receive Medisave top ups and subsidies on the up and coming and most feared Medishielf Life Scheme. There will also be subsidies for outpatient treatments at polyclinics. Those who missed out by a few years would also be given Medisave top ups. Working seniors will have higher CPF contributions from their employers. And there are also goodies for the SMEs.
Let me just focus on the Pioneer Generation Package. It is all about healthcare and how to pay from their Medisave savings plus Medishield Life and outpatient subsidies. For those who are 80 and above this year, the Medisave top ups and Medishield Life subsidy will see them fully covered without having to cough out extra payement. This is a fairly clear cut case. The 70 to 80 will get their proportional top ups plus 50% subsidies on the Medishield Life premiums. The Medisave top ups range from $200 to $800 depending on the age group with the 65s getting $200 annually for life. The Medishield Life premium subsidies will be 40% for the 65s and 60% for the 90s.
There is a little thing that is not clear here. Would the 65s be getting $200 top up for life or the amount would increase as they hit the higher age group? This point is very important as we get to the details of the give and give budget. What would be the net position when the take and take Medishield Life Scheme is announced?
So What If They Are Gunning For Votes?
Here in Singapore, the Singapore government has just released its Budget for the year and the eye-catching thing about it was a S$8 billion fund to "honor" the older generation. Called the Pioneer Generation Package (PGP), it is to help our elderly cope with daily expenses and especially their medical needs.
Others called the PGP an attempt to score political points and channels more money into the GIC through our CPF accounts. I agree. The PGP is designed to score political points with the elderly and probably to get more money into the CPF.
Does anyone truly believes the ruling PAP (People's Action Party) is going to do anything that doesn't benefits them? Aren't they are a political party? You think they are not looking to get votes for the coming elections? You think they are doing this out of the kindness of their heart
Voters acted, govt listened
An overdue healthcare package Put bluntly: The voters won – yet again.
The $8 billion Pioneer Generation Package is the second most significant and substantial “victory” for true-blue Singaporeans since the General Elections of 2011. Setting up a committee to review and finally trim ministerial salaries was the first. The committee’s recommendations went some way to appease critics who saw politics as public service and not corporate appointments.
There are many heart-and-soul issues still to be resolved. Among them: the large number of foreigners jostling face to face with locals for living space on this small island, the widening income gap, getting the MRT one hundred per cent back on track, “de-elitising” our schools, universities and social system to ensure every child or person gets the same opportunities, whatever his or her background and the debatable “imperative” that all-out economic growth must be pursued at all costs.
Two Ministers Dozing Off in Parliament During Finance Minister Tharman's Budget Speech
#Sg Budget 2016
Social Media takes on Budget 2015
#SG Budget 2015
A Rainbow Budget 2014
Response To Budget 2013
Parliament Debates Budget 2013
Our SG Budget 2013