SINGAPORE - Budget 2016, which was delivered by Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat on Thursday (March 24), contained a series of perks aimed at different segments of the society.
"We want a Singapore which is a great place to raise a family, and where we bring out the best in every Singaporean; a society that takes care of those who have special needs, who are less well-off or who have fallen on hard times; a society where our seniors age with energy and dignity," Mr Heng said.
The Straits Times takes a look at some of these measures.
For families with children
- The new Child Development Account (CDA) First Step grant will be introduced for all Singaporean children. Parents will automatically get $3,000 in their child's CDA, which can be used for their children's healthcare and childcare needs. This applies to eligible babies born from March 24, 2016.
- The Medisave withdrawal limit for pre-delivery medical expenses will be doubled from $450 to $900.
- New KidStart initiative to be piloted for children in their first six years. This is targeted at a small group of parents who need more support to give their children a good start in life. About 1,000 children are expected to benefit from the scheme, which is expected to cost more than $20 million.
For the elderly
- The Silver Support Scheme that gives quarterly payouts of between $300 and $750 will begin in July. It supports the bottom 20 per cent of senior citizens aged 65 and above, with a smaller degree of support extended to cover up to 30 per cent of seniors. This will benefit more than 140,000 senior citizens and will cost almost $320 million in the first year.
- Community Networks for Seniors will be piloted, to help the elderly discover health conditions earlier and to connect healthy seniors stay active and engaged with the community.
For the needy and disabled
- The Workfare Income Supplement scheme will be enhanced, with the qualifying income ceiling raised from the current average wage of $1,900 a month to $2,000 a month. Payouts will also be increased, and be made monthly rather than quarterly.
- Persons with disabilities under 35 years old earning low wages will be eligible for the Workfare Training Support scheme.
- The basic monthly cash allowance under the Public Assistance scheme, for those who are permanently unable to work, and have little or no means of income and family support, will be raised by $80 to $870.
- Households that qualify for the GST cash voucher will get more money this year, through a "cash special payment" of up to $200 that will be made in November. This will benefit 1.4 million Singaporeans.
- Households will also get between one and three months of service and conservancy charges (S&CC) rebates.
For the youth and community
- Under a new National Outdoor Adventure Education Masterplan, a new Outward Bound Singapore campus will be built on Coney Island. This is expected to be ready around 2020 and cost about $250 million.
- A new Our Singapore Fund, with up to $25 million, will be launched by the second half of 2016 to support citizen-led projects.