Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Singapore budget 2019

Singapore Plans Cautious Budget With an Eye on Election

Singapore Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat will aim to strike a delicate balance in Monday’s budget: preaching fiscal prudence while doling out more social spending ahead of elections that could come as early as this year.

While not expected to be as headline-grabbing as last year -- when Heng flagged a hike in the goods-and-services tax -- the 2019 budget will cover a range of familiar policy priorities. Infrastructure spending, more health-care support for a rapidly aging population, and help for firms transitioning in a digital economy were top-of-mind for Heng in a Jan. 22 interview.

The global backdrop calls for more caution. Weaker demand and U.S.-China trade tensions saw Singapore’s export-reliant economy grow at a slower pace than expected in the fourth quarter, data showed Friday.

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Winners and Losers From Singapore's Budget as Election Looms

Singapore Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat boosted health-care and military spending, gave tax rebates to citizens and tightened rules on foreign workers ahead of an election that could come as early as this year.

Heng announced a new S$8 billion ($5.9 billion) support package for seniors in his budget speech on Monday, as well as measures to help local businesses adopt new technologies. The expansionary fiscal plan will push the overall budget deficit to 0.7 percent of gross domestic product in the year ending March 2020, from a revised surplus of 0.4 percent this year.

The finance minister opened his speech by talking about the changing global and domestic landscape and the importance of planning for the long term, while being open to diversity. Weaker demand and U.S.-China trade tensions saw Singapore’s export-reliant economy grow at a slower pace than expected in the fourth quarter.

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