Budget 2018 a 'strategic and integrated financial plan' to build better future: PM Lee

Budget 2018 a 'strategic and integrated financial plan' to build better future: PM Lee

Channel NewsAsia·2018-02-20 17:05

Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. (Photo: Ministry of Communications and Information)

SINGAPORE: Budget 2018 is a "strategic and integrated financial plan" to build Singaporeans a "better future together", said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in a Facebook post on Tuesday (Feb 20).

The Government's Budget statement was unveiled by Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat in Parliament on Monday.

"What does it mean for business? For a vibrant and innovative economy, our businesses need to grow," wrote Mr Lee. "Government will support businesses to innovate and build capabilities through grants and help firms grow and internationalise." 

"We will continue to help firms and workers develop digital capabilities and skills to adapt to the digital economy."

Chief among Mr Heng's announcements was the raising of Goods and Services Tax (GST) from 7 to 9 per cent “sometime in the period” from 2021 to 2025. 

Touching on the subject, Mr Lee said that the increase would be done in a "fair and progressive manner" and that the Government would help households cope with the change, in particular poorer households.

"Government spending will rise, especially in healthcare, infrastructure, and security," he said. "While we are on sound fiscal footing, we must plan ahead to ensure that we can always afford to spend what we need."

Another highlight of Budget 2018 was an update on the carbon tax first announced last year. 

"For Singapore to become a smart, green, and liveable city, we need to reduce our carbon footprint," said Mr Lee. "The new carbon tax will be S$5 per tonne of greenhouse gas emissions, to encourage industries and consumers to cut back on emissions."

Pointing to new announcements related to ageing and seniors, Mr Lee said that a new Silver Generation Office would help to coordinate social and health-related services for seniors to "better look after our seniors as they age".

A one-off "SG Bonus" was also announced on Monday, where part of the expected FY2017 budget surplus of S$9.6 billion will be “shared” with Singaporeans aged 21 years and above in 2018.

"Last year, we had a better-than-expected surplus," said Mr Lee. "Each Singaporean aged 21 and above (will) receive an SG Bonus of S$100 to S$300 depending on income, as we share the fruits of Singapore’s prosperity."


Read full article on Channel NewsAsia

Singapore Lee Hsien Loong Government Economy