Budget 2019: Here’s where all your tax money is going
There's something for everyone.
Now that Budget 2019 has been announced, you are probably aware that it contains quite a number of benefits for different groups.
As Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat himself stated, part of the Budget’s objective is to uplift every Singaporean and to give Singaporeans a peace of mind with healthcare.
“So what’s in it for me?”, you may be wondering.
Well, you can expect more help especially in terms of education, employment, and healthcare.
Here’s what you else can expect from Budget measures not named the Bicentennial Bonus or the Merdeka Generation Package.
Moar money for pre-school education
If you are a family with young children, here’s some potentially good news for you — the government is spending more to raise the quality, manage costs, and improve the ease of access to pre-schools.
As a point of comparison, the government spent around $1 billion in 2018 on the pre-school sector whereas in 2012, the equivalent figure was $360 million.
This means the pre-school spending has risen by more than 250 per cent.
What’s more, a number of education-related measures have already been implemented prior to this year, such as the UPLIFT task force set up last year to look at helping students from disadvantaged backgrounds through providing better care and support, plus the KidSTART initiative introduced in 2016, aimed at supporting the well-being of low-income children in their health and overall growth.
The cool thing is that both initiatives include parent engagement and teaching parental skills, given the crucial role that parents play in the early development of their children.
If you are a worker or if your parents are still in the workforce, there is much from the Budget that both of you can look forward to as well.
An expansion of help for low-wage workers
In particular, lower-wage workers can expect higher payouts under the enhanced Workfare Income Scheme (WIS), with older workers receiving more.
Furthermore, workers currently earning more than $2,000 per month can start to benefit when the qualifying income cap is raised from $2,000 to $2,300 from Jan. 2020.
In all, eligible workers can receive up to $4,000 a year, depending on their age and monthly income.
This move is expected to cost an additional $206 million yearly, up to a near-annual cost of $1 billion, and benefit almost 440,000 Singaporeans.
Better support for older workers
To help older workers earn more, the Special Employment Credit (SEC) scheme and the Additional SEC (ASEC) scheme are extended to Dec. 31, 2020 from Dec. 31, 2019.
Don’t know what the SEC scheme is? It introduced in Budget 2011 to raise the employability of low-wage older workers by providing wage offsets to employers hiring Singaporeans aged 55 and above, and earning up to $4,000.
As for the ASEC, it was introduced in Budget 2015 as an additional wage offset of up to 3 per cent for employers who re-employ Singaporeans above the re-employment age.
An additional $366 million will be allocated to top up the fund for these schemes.
If you’ve reached this point in the article and you’re still wondering if there’s a Budget benefit relevant to you, because you don’t have children, or are not working, or ain’t old, fret not.
As Minister Heng announced, the Community Health Assist Scheme (CHAS) will now be extended to all Singaporeans for chronic conditions, regardless of income.
If you’re not familiar with CHAS, here’s a quick rundown of what it how it will work for you via the following analogy:
Imagine you’re a 45-year-old adult with diabetes.
Prior to Budget 2019, you weren’t eligible for CHAS because your household monthly income per person was above $1,800.
However, now that you’re eligible, thanks to the extension, you receive a green CHAS card.
This will allow you to receive subsidies for chronic care – in this case treatment for your diabetes – at GP clinics near your home that participate in this scheme.
For Singaporeans already holding the orange CHAS card, you will be able to receive subsidies for common illnesses — a measure that is already in place for blue cardholders.
This is part of the CHAS’ enhancement announced in Budget 2019.
And if you’re suffering from multiple chronic conditions or a chronic condition with complication(s), you should not worry that treatment will be out of your reach.
Under the enhanced CHAS scheme, subsidies for complex chronic conditions will also be increased.
To top it off, if your parents are in the Merdeka Generation, they will also receive higher subsidies for medical and dental care at participating GP and dental clinics from Nov. 1, 2019 onwards.
There are also a one-time $100 PAssion Silver Card top-up under the Merdeka Generation Package which MG seniors can use for entry to community clubs, public pools, public transport, and more to encourage them to age actively and healthily.
There’s still nothing for you?
If you’ve read till the end of the article and have been thinking to yourself that none of the above applies to you, maybe because you earn more than $2,300 a month, hardly fall sick, or you have much older parents, then what?
Fret not, because you would still have benefitted, in one way or other, from the SkillsFuture Credit and initiatives, increased housing grants and education subsidies, GST Vouchers, or Pioneer Generation Package that were announced in previous years, and which remain in force. And there remain many other schemes not cited here.
So there is certainly something for everyone in each year’s Budget, even if it is not in this particular year.
This sponsored post by MOF made us feel a little less guilty in buying Bandung for lunch and dinner.
Top image from SG Cares Facebook.