Budget 2021: S'pore to set aside S$90 million to boost electric vehicle initiatives & local food production

Three key enablers in Singapore's journey to sustainability: Technology, capital and action of our people.

Zhangxin Zheng | February 16, 2021, 04:41 PM

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Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Heng Swee Keat delivered the Budget 2021 speech on Feb. 16.

A portion of his speech was dedicated to sharing how the government aims to build a more sustainable Singapore.

"Unlike Covid-19, which is a sudden and sharp shock, climate change is a gradual and intensifying risk, year by year," Heng said.

Therefore, sustainable development will continue to be a "major priority" for Singapore.

Adding on to the Singapore Green Plan 2030 that was announced last week, Heng's speech unveiled more investments into areas to mitigate and adapt to climate change impacts.

S$60 million to support local farmers in innovation and raising productivity

The government will set aside S$60 million for a new Agri-Food Cluster Transformation Fund, Heng said.

This will replace the Agriculture Productivity Fund (APF). The Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment will elaborate more on this during the upcoming Committee of Supply (COS) debate.

The APF was set up in 2014 to support local farmers in their efforts to expand production capability, boost yield and raise productivity, according to Singapore Food Agency's website.

The Straits Times reported in November 2019 that 107 local farms had benefited from this S$63 million fund.

S$30 million to support EV-related initiatives

Heng also announced that another S$30 million will be set aside to support initiatives related to electric vehicles.

Electric Vehicles (EVs) is the most promising clean-energy vehicle technology today, Heng said.

Heng said in the 2020 Budget speech that Singapore will aim to phase out ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicles by 2040.

Some of these initiatives include increasing charging points at public car parks and private premises by 2030.

The target has since increased from 28,000, which was announced last year, to 60,000.

Petrol duty rates raised

To encourage car buyers to choose electric cars, Heng also announced that the Additional Registration Fee floor will be lowered to zero for electric cars from Jan., 2022 to Dec., 2023.

Road tax treatment for electric cars will be revised so that the road tax for electric cars will be "comparable" to an ICE equivalent, and encourage more mass adoption of electric vehicles.

The government will further discourage the use of ICE vehicles.

To build on the momentum, the government will raise petrol duty rates from Feb. 16, Heng announced.

For premium petrol, the duty will be raised by 15 cents per liter. For intermediate petrols, the duty will be raised by 10 cents per liter.

"Usage-based tax has helped shape consumer behavior towards a more efficient use of fuel or environmentally friendly alternatives," Heng said.

Green financing

Recognising that green finance will be an "important enabler", Heng said that the government will issue green bonds on select public infrastructure projects.

The government has identified S$19 billion of public sector green projects as a start.

One of these projects is Tuas Nexus:

The Government to lead by example

In Heng's speech, he again emphasised that the government will lead by example.

The public sector will commit to more ambitious goals under the "GreenGov.SG" initiative, Heng announced.

More will be announced by MSE during the COS debate

Heng urged businesses and households to play their part as well.

He mentioned a new Enterprise Sustainability Programme which will help enterprises, especially Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs), to use resources more efficiently and develop green solutions.

The Ministry of Trade and Industry will share more details in due time.

Heng also updated that the government has received over 200 proposals via the first SG Eco Fund grant call.

"Ultimately, building a green Singapore will require a whole-of-society effort, and I hope that we can harness the ideas and energies of the public, private, and people sectors. Together, we can build a sustainable home for all."

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