What you might see in Budget 2015

This article was first published on Feb 8, 2015

Budget 2015 will be presented on Feb 23 after the long Chinese New Year weekend.

This year's Jubilee - and possibly pre-election - Budget is widely expected to have something for all Singaporeans.

The Government is also expected to further strengthen social safety nets. An important focus will be on preparing Singapore to handle future challenges.

These are some of the key items likely to come up in the Budget.

1. Retirement adequacy and stronger social safety nets

The Budget is likely to further strengthen social safety nets for the vulnerable, including plans to help the elderly poor. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in his National Day Rally speech last year that a new scheme, called Silver Support, will provide a payout in the form of an annual bonus to low-income Singaporeans aged 65 and above.

Mr Lee said the money will benefit the 10 per cent to 20 per cent of people who have not saved up enough in their Central Provident Fund (CPF) accounts, do not own flats and are without family support.

The annual bonus is meant to supplement the payouts from CPF accounts.

The Government is also expected to endorse key recommendations made by the Central Provident Fund (CPF) advisory panel to revamp Singapore's retirement system.

The proposals focused on providing CPF members with more choice and flexibility.

2. Economic restructuring, productivity and skills development

Previous Budgets contained a slew of incentives aimed at helping businesses raise productivity and pass on gains to their employees.

The focus this year is expected to be on training and development as part of ongoing efforts to cultivate deep skills in the workforce.

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam chairs the SkillsFuture Council, formed in September last year to spearhead a national push towards an integrated system of education, training and career progression.

3. SG50 gift for all Singaporeans

The Budget is widely expected to contain something for all Singaporeans, particularly the so-called "sandwiched class" who have been squeezed by rising costs.

Tax rebates similar to those offered in the 2011 pre-election Budget are not out of the question.

Cash payouts similar to the Growth Dividends given out in Budget 2011, subject to a Singaporean's wealth, have also been raised as a possibility. On average, 80 per cent of Singaporeans got $500 to $700 in Growth Dividends. About $1.5 billion was paid out.

Analysts believe that tax relief - on home loans or health insurance - are also likely options the Government might choose.

chiaym@sph.com.sg