Parliament: About 120 appeals a year from senior citizens for GST vouchers

The problem of cash-poor elderly folk who fail to qualify for GST vouchers because they live in pricey homes affects only a handful of people, Parliament heard on Tuesday. -- PHOTO: ST FILE
The problem of cash-poor elderly folk who fail to qualify for GST vouchers because they live in pricey homes affects only a handful of people, Parliament heard on Tuesday. -- PHOTO: ST FILE

The problem of cash-poor elderly folk who fail to qualify for GST vouchers because they live in pricey homes affects only a handful of people, Parliament heard on Tuesday.

The Ministry of Finance receives appeals from about 120 such citizens aged 65 and above each year.

They are below the income threshold and own no property but do not qualify for GST vouchers because they live in houses with annual values exceeding $21,000.

This makes up less than 0.05 per cent of the entire senior population, said Senior Minister of State for Finance Josephine Teo, who was responding to questions from Mr David Ong (Jurong GRC).

Mr Ong said he sees many cases of cash-poor elderly being denied vouchers "simply because they live with their children" in costly properties.

The GST Voucher scheme aims to help lower- and middle-income households with their expenses, in particular what they pay in GST.

"There is no perfect way of assessing a person's financial situation," said Ms Teo.

But, she noted, a senior citizen living in a high-value property with his family is, in general, more likely to be supported well enough.

Appeals by those who do not qualify for the vouchers but struggle financially are carefully considered, she added.