Budget will cater for current, future needs: Tharman

More help for needy seniors and to enable good careers

This article was first published on Feb 2, 2015

This year's Budget will be one that addresses the needs of all Singaporeans, for now and the future.

"It is basically a Budget that's about building Singapore's future.

"It rides on what we have been doing in the last five years; it takes us further," said Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, giving a preview of the Budget.

For seniors, especially the lower-income ones, there will be more help for their retirement.

Mr Tharman, who was speaking to reporters after attending a community event yesterday to mark the start of the National University of Singapore's 110th anniversary celebrations, said the Government is in the final phases of shaping the Silver Support Scheme.

This was first announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at last year's National Day Rally.

Mr Lee had said that, under the scheme, needy Singaporeans aged 65 and above will receive payouts in the form of an annual bonus to help them with their living expenses.

It is likely to target those who do not have much in their Central Provident Fund (CPF) accounts, do not own Housing Board flats and lack family support.

The annual bonus is meant to supplement the payouts from CPF accounts, and more details are expected to be announced at this year's Budget speech, which will be delivered on Feb 23.

There will also be something for the young and middle-aged.

"In this year's Budget, there will be some further initiatives with regard to retirement adequacy," said Mr Tharman, who is also Finance Minister.

"But we are also looking towards the future, to enable good careers for everyone - good, fulfilling careers."

He said that "good careers" would not only apply to those who are in school or about to start their careers, but also include mid-career Singaporeans.

Recent Budgets have introduced initiatives to give more aid to various groups in society - including people with disabilities, young families and the elderly; to make health care and housing more affordable; and to spur local companies to become more productive.

Political watchers and economists have said that this year's Budget will perhaps focus on the middle class, particularly the "sandwiched class" squeezed by rising costs.

Others have said there could be significant CPF adjustments, as the Government has been receiving feedback on how to enhance the system.

goyshiyi@sph.com.sg