It has only been a year since the last Budget announcement, but there were multiple events that were close to our hearts. The passing of Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, the Nation’s 50th birthday, the landslide victory by the Man in White and our beloved celebrity politician Tharman Shanmugaratnam stepping down from the helm of the Finance Ministry.
Let us refresh our minds on what was promised in 2015 and what have been delivered since.
What Was The Overall Direction Of Singapore Budget 2015?
It was mainly focused on FOUR broad topics.
Empower everyone to learn and gain mastery throughout life.
(2) ENTERPRISES (aka businesses)
Increase productivity through innovation, which would lead ultimately to internationalization.
Invest and improve economic and social infrastructure for the future.
(4) FAIR AND INCLUSIVE SOCIETY
Leave no man behind by providing support to middle-income families and strengthen assurance in retirement.
What Is There For Us, The PEOPLE?
We have been hearing about SkillsFuture umpteen times yet we know so little about it. It is basically an initiative by our government to encourage lifelong learning, matching the various industries with job seekers and providing support especially those in their mid-careers.
To inculcate lifelong learning, our government has given all of us $500 to pursue courses that would increase knowledge and job relevance. There are thousands of available courses that we can use the $500 for.
Despite the government announcing that they will make periodic top ups into this credit account, we would advocate to spend this $500 wisely. We are not sure how courses such as “A History of Western Art 1: From Lascaux to Van Gogh” is going to make a technician more productive at work.
We also hope that SkillsFuture would not cause an inflation in the prices of courses being offered by vendors, similar to how PIC have caused an increase in simple IT related services such as setting up of a website to become more expensive than it used to be.
How about for small businesses and ENTERPRISES?
There are three main helplines for businesses.
Wage Credit Scheme that helps to co-fund a 20% pay increment for employees earning $4,000 and below is meant to help encourage businesses to appropriately remunerate their staff.
Corporate income tax rebate provides a 30% rebate (up to $20,000) per annum. This provides business with more cash flow that can be used to increase capital expenditure and labour investment.
Productivity and Innovation Credit (PIC) which subsidizes productive equipment investments and tax allowances.
What kind of INFRASTRUCTURE improvements will there be?
Having 4 air terminals does not adequately show our success story. So we decided to go ahead to build a 5th one to strengthen our Air Hub status! What a great way of improving our infrastructure capacity. Soon, even locals will get lost over which terminal 4Fingers crispy chicken is at.
Public transportation is next in line for infrastructure improvement. Finally, after multiple breakdowns and frustrations, transportation is in line to be improved. If we cannot trust Mr. Khaw Boon Wan – the problem solver – to fix this, we are not sure who else can resolve our “water leak, short circuit and red/green line breakdown” situation.
Amongst the 3 infrastructure spending, we are most pleased with the initiative of improving and expanding healthcare facilities and hospitals. This is essential as our society is aging and requires further enhancement in order for us all to retire gracefully.
How do I assure my RETIREMENT?
Central Provident Fund (CPF) is key in assuring our retirement. As much as do not like the “moving goalpost”, aka basic/full/enhanced retirement sum, CPF LIFE have to evolve to continue staying relevant.
Due to increasing nominal and real wage across all sectors, the CPF ceiling has been increased from $5,000 to $6,000. This will enable us to attain a higher sum at age 55.
Employers are also required to increase CPF contribution rates to our older workers between 0.5% and 1%.
Those above age 55 can also earn up to 6% interest on their balances in their CPF. The best part it is risk-free. To commend our pension system, we cannot find another country which is AAA rated yet gives a risk-free rate of 6%. If any of you can find one, please let us know.
What do you want in Budget 2016?
Budget 2016 will be aired on the 24th March. Therefore you have some time to send in your comments and suggestions via this link.
We believe the Ministry of Finance is very open in obtaining feedback and ideas from the public, the very people they are serving for the betterment of Singapore.
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