Budget Cheat Sheets: 4 things to expect in Budget 2014

With Budget Day just over a week away, speculation is mounting about what the annual fiscal package will hold. The Straits Times peeks into its crystal ball - taking into account comments by the Government - to predict the likely features of the Feb 21 speech.

1. For pioneer generation: help with health-care

Some 450,000 Singaporeans aged 65 and older can expect a special package of health-care subsidies to be unveiled in the upcoming Budget speech.

This pioneer generation of citizens, who helped build modern-day Singapore, will enjoy subsidies for outpatient treatment and the new national insurance scheme, MediShield Life, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong revealed on Feb 9. They will also receive additional Medisave top-ups every year.

2. For older workers: higher CPF contributions

Singaporean workers aged above 50 to 55 may also have their Central Provident Fund (CPF) contributions raised to be on a par with younger workers.

Currently, their CPF contribution rates are 32.5 per cent, compared with 36 per cent for younger workers. Their rates had been cut in 2003 and partially restored in 2012.

Labour chief Lim Swee Say hinted on Feb 10 that steps to close the remaining gap could be taken as soon as on Budget Day this year.

3. For families: better support

One of the priorities of this year's Budget is to give families more support in terms of education and health-care, according to Senior Minister of State for Finance Josephine Teo.

She said on Jan 26 that more improvements will be made to the pre-school sector, and that the Government is looking at how to help with health-care "because that is always a concern where families with seniors are concerned".

4. For companies: more aid to raise productivity

Local firms, especially small and medium-sized enterprises, will receive more help from the Government in their ongoing efforts to become more productive, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said on Jan 19.

Mr Tharman, who will deliver the Budget speech, said the Government will provide more support for businesses through both broad-based schemes and industry-specific measures.

One such broad-based scheme is the popular Productivity and Innovation Credit (PIC). Some senior officials, including Senior Minister of State for Finance Josephine Teo and Minister of State for Trade and Industry Teo Ser Luck, have indicated that the Government may consider prolonging the PIC scheme, which is due to expire next year.

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