SINGAPORE - Cash payouts, more Community Development Council (CDC) vouchers and public transport subsidies are among the relief measures announced on Friday in a new $1.5 billion support package to combat the rising cost of living due to inflation.
Here are five things to note from the latest package:
1. Up to $500 Cost-of-Living Special Payment
Cash of up to $500 will be given out to 2.5 million eligible adult Singaporeans in December 2022. This is on top of the up to $200 cash that adult Singaporeans will get in December from the GST Assurance Package. No application is required.
Those eligible would be Singaporeans aged 21 or above in 2023, with assessable income for the year of assessment 2022 of not more than $100,000. They should also not own more than one property.
Those with assessable income of up to $22,000 will receive $500. This is generally the point from which one has to start paying personal income taxes.
Those with assessable income of between $22,000 and $34,000 - about the 40th percentile of income earners - will get $400.
Those with assessable income of between $34,000 and $100,000 - about the 80th percentile of income earners - will get $300.
2. Additional $100 CDC vouchers
An additional $100 in CDC vouchers will be distributed to every Singaporean household in January 2023.
This will be on top of the $200 in vouchers announced in Budget 2022, to be also distributed in January, as part of the enhanced Assurance Package to offset the goods and services tax increase.
A second round of $200 in vouchers, also announced in Budget 2022, will be distributed in 2024.
No application is needed.
3. Public transport subsidies
There will be an additional subsidy of about $200 million in 2023 to cover the 10.6 percentage point fare increase that will be carried over to future fare review exercises.
This subsidy is meant to mitigate the impact of the fare increase on commuters and pay for higher costs of providing public transport services due to the increase in energy prices, manpower costs and inflation.
The Public Transport Council said on Wednesday following its annual fare review exercise that it was able to limit the fare increase this year to 2.9 per cent - or about four to five cents for each bus or train ride - because the Government is forking out additional public transport subsidies in 2023 on top of the more than $2 billion in subsidies it already foots annually.
4. Public transport vouchers
A total of 600,000 public transport vouchers will be made available to resident households with a monthly household income per person of not more than $1,600.
Each voucher is worth $30 and can be used to top up fare cards or buy monthly travel or concession passes.
This is meant to provide additional support to lower- and lower-middle-income households.
Households that received a voucher during the 2021 public transport voucher exercise and continue to meet the income eligibility criteria will automatically receive a notification letter via post and need not apply. These letters will be sent by end-December.
Households that meet the eligibility criteria but did not receive a voucher in the previous scenario can apply for the vouchers online or in person at community centres from early 2023. More details will be given later.
5. Enhanced education financial assistance schemes and bursaries
The income eligibility threshold for the Ministry of Education's (MOE) financial assistance schemes will be raised to defray school expenses for more students.
This will take effect from Jan 1, 2023, for primary, secondary and pre-university students and from the 2023 academic year for those on government bursaries for post-secondary education institutions.
For the MOE financial assistance scheme for government, government-aided and specialised schools, as well as for MOE-funded special education schools, the gross household income cap will be increased from $2,750 to $3,000. The per capita income cap will be increased from $690 to $750.
The higher income eligibility criteria mean an additional 10,500 students can benefit from such assistance.
The bursary quantum for full-time Institute of Technical Education students will also be enhanced from the 2023 academic year, with those from lower-income households benefiting from the highest increase.
The ministry is also reviewing government bursaries for diploma and undergraduate students, and will provide more details when ready.