SINGAPORE - Adult Singaporeans will get a one-off "SG Bonus" this year, ranging from $100 to $300, depending on their income.
The bonus comes as the Government expects an overall budget surplus of $9.6 billion, or 2.1 per cent of GDP, for the 2017 financial year, Finance Minster Heng Swee Keat said on Monday (Feb 19).
The surplus is markedly higher than the $1.9 billion forecast a year ago, mainly because of "exceptional" Statutory Board contributions of $4.6 billion.
These contributions are mainly from the Monetary Authority of Singapore on the back a rally in global stock and bond markets in the second half of FY 2016, and increased stamp duty collections of $2 billion due to the property market pick-up.
"We do not expect either to occur every year," said Mr Heng. "It is not a structural surplus."
Some of this year's surplus will be put aside for future spending, including $5 billion for the Rail Infrastructure Fund, which will be launched this year to save for major upcoming rail lines.
There will also be $2 billion earmarked for premium subsidies and other forms of support for Singaporeans when the ElderShield review is complete.
The final allocation is the $700 million to fund the one-off SG Bonus for Singaporeans over 21 in 2018.
Those with an assessable income of $28,000 and below last year will get $300; $200 goes to people earning $28,001 to $100,000; and $100 for those earning more than $100,000 or who own more than one property.
The budget for the 2017 financial year remains expansionary for the domestic economy, said Mr Heng, who expects a basic deficit of $1 billion, or 0.2 per cent of GDP, once the Net Investment Returns Contribution and top-ups to funds have been excluded.
The budget position will continue to be expansionary in the 2018 financial year.
Ministries' total expenditures are expected to be $80 billion, or 8.3 per cent higher than in the previous financial year. Mr Heng expects a slight overall budget deficit of $0.6 billion, or 0.1 per cent of GDP.
The finance minister said he will “further moderate” the pace of the ministries’ budget growth, following a 2 per cent permanent downward adjustment to the budget caps of the ministries and organs of state last year.
Currently, ministries’ block budgets are allowed to grow at 0.4 times of GDP growth. This rate will be reduced to 0.3 times from FY2019.
In his speech, Mr Heng said that while Singapore has enough resources to meet its spending needs till 2020, it is vital that the country continues to prepare for future expenditure.
“In the next decade, between 2021 and 2030, if we do not take measures early, we will not have enough revenues to meet our growing needs,” he said.
Also, since more will be spent on healthcare, infrastructure and security, “there is a need to strengthen our fiscal footing to meet these growing expenditure needs and to prepare for any unforseen ones,” he said.