1.5 million Singaporeans to receive up to $700 in GST vouchers in August

The payment was announced by Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong last month. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

SINGAPORE - About 1.5 million Singaporeans will receive up to $700 in cash next month, as part of a $1.5 billion package to help them cope with higher inflation, said the Ministry of Finance (MOF) on Tuesday (July 12).

The payment was announced by Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong last month, with the Government's Goods and Services Tax Voucher (GSTV) scheme being expanded upon with an additional GSTV - Cash Special Payment.

As such, eligible Singaporeans will receive two payments: one through the GSTV - Cash and the other through the GSTV - Cash Special Payment.

About 575,000 Singaporeans aged 65 and above this year will also receive up to $450 in their Central Provident Fund MediSave accounts as part of the GSTV scheme.

Those born on or before Dec 31, 1969, and not already receiving Pioneer or Merdeka Generation benefits will also have $100 credited into their MediSave accounts by the end of next month.

MOF said the payments are part of the Government's continuing support for those from lower-income backgrounds, as well as the elderly, to help defray their GST expenses and costs of living.

It noted that eligible Singaporeans would have already received Community Development Council vouchers, two GSTV - U-Save and GSTV - service and conservancy (S&CC) rebates, as well as top-ups to Edusave or Post-Secondary Education Accounts earlier this year.

"They can expect further support in the form of cash payouts, utilities credits, top-ups to Child Development Accounts, and another two tranches of U-Save and S&CC rebates in the coming months," said the ministry.

Fresh graduate Rachel Bong, 23, said the GSTV scheme was a welcome supplement and a sign that the Government recognised the burden that high inflation would place on people. 

But she added that it was a short-term solution, as it “didn’t  necessarily ease a significant load in the long run".

While she has yet to contribute to her household expenses, she said that the rising cost of living worried her.

“Right now the biggest visible increase in costs is in food and commodities, which I see all the time when I go out. I definitely feel the pinch when eating outside,” said Ms Bong.

In the meantime, she said her family of five mostly saves on those expenses by preparing their own meals at home.

Eating at home is also what Madam Malika Abdul Rawoof, 51, said her household of six does to minimise their monthly expenditure.

“We used to go out for family dinners maybe two to three times a month, but we’ve stopped doing that ever since prices started to climb.”

Instead of cooking time-consuming dishes that require many ingredients, she said her family has since stuck to simple meals, which require fewer ingredients, helping them minimise their expenditure.

But the business owner added that, while she could cut costs at home, she was finding it hard to do so at her fashion boutique, located at Golden Landmark Complex.

“Electricity costs have gone up. The cost of importing goods has also gone up. My workers also need to be paid more because they need a liveable wage to be able to cope with inflation.”

She added that her rental costs have also gone up, from $1,500 to $1,900 a month, which squeezed her margins even further.

“The GST vouchers help definitely, but people mainly use them to offset their daily expenditure. So they’ll focus on doing things like buying groceries.

“No one is going to buy outfits when they have more pressing needs,” said Madam Malika.

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