Consumers to pay GST for Netflix and other overseas digital services: 9 other policy changes from January

Those who subscribe to Netflix and other overseas digital services will have to pay a 7 per cent goods and services tax from Jan 1, 2020.
Those who subscribe to Netflix and other overseas digital services will have to pay a 7 per cent goods and services tax from Jan 1, 2020.PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE - From Jan 1, those who subscribe to Netflix and other overseas digital services will have to pay a 7 per cent goods and services tax (GST).

Here are nine other policy changes that will affect you from New Year's Day next year.

1. Increase in Central Provident Fund (CPF) retirement sum payouts

Some CPF members will see an increase in monthly payouts in their retirement.

Payouts through the Retirement Sum Scheme (RSS), the main CPF retirement payout scheme for members born before 1958, will last up till age 90, instead of the current 95, from next year.

More than a third of members on the RSS who are currently receiving their payouts, or some 60,000 people, will see an increase in payouts, Manpower Minister Josephine Teo announced in Parliament in November.

The new rules will apply to all RSS members who turn 65 from July 1, 2020, and will take effect from Jan 1, 2020, for those who are currently receiving payouts.

Around 160,000 RSS members have passed the payout eligibility age and have started receiving payouts.

2. Higher Basic Healthcare Sum

The Basic Healthcare Sum - or estimated savings required for basic subsidised healthcare needs in old age - will be raised from $57,200 to $60,000 for CPF members below 65 from Jan 1.

 

Those who turn 65 in 2020 will have the sum fixed at $60,000, which will not be changed.

Those who are 66 and above in 2020 will see no changes to their cohort's Basic Healthcare Sum.

The Basic Healthcare Sum is adjusted yearly for members below 65 years of age to keep pace with the growth in Medisave withdrawals. Once members reach 65, the sum will be fixed for the rest of their lives.

3. Minimum age for smokers to be raised to 20

The minimum age for smoking will be raised to 20 on Jan 1, as Singapore further intensifies its efforts to get people to stub out.

 

The minimum age was raised from 18 to 19 in January this year, and will be raised to 21 on Jan 1, 2021, the Ministry of Health (MOH) announced in December 2018.

The ministry said then that progressively raising the minimum legal age for the purchase, use, possession, sale and supply of tobacco products will prevent youth from picking up smoking by limiting access to tobacco products.

4. Tighter foreign worker quota

Companies in the service sector will have to rely even less on foreign workers.

 

The Government is tightening the dependency ratio ceiling, or the proportion of foreign workers a firm can employ, from 40 per cent now to 38 per cent on Jan 1 next year, and to 35 per cent on Jan 1, 2021.

For the subset of S Pass workers - mid-skilled foreigners earning at least $2,300 a month - the quota will be cut from 15 per cent now to 13 per cent on Jan 1 next year, and to 10 per cent on Jan 1, 2021, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat announced during the Budget speech in February.

5. Fewer approved overseas medical schools

Those going overseas to study medicine with the aim of practising as doctors here will have fewer schools to choose from.

The number of approved overseas medical schools will be cut from 160 to 103 from Jan 1 next year, the Singapore Medical Council (SMC) and MOH announced in April.

 

Students who have already secured a place or who are currently studying at one of the 57 schools will not be affected.

The revision was done to ensure that the quality of foreign-trained doctors practising here remains high and as local universities expand their places for medicine, MOH and SMC said.

6. Compulsory drone registration from Jan 2

One rule that will kick in a day later from Jan 2 next year is the mandatory registration of all drones that weigh more than 250g with the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) before they can be used in Singapore.

This policy change, which comes on top of raising penalties for various offences involving drones, comes after Parliament passed the Air Navigation (Amendment) Bill on Nov 4.

 

Currently, first-time offenders caught flying a drone without a valid permit could be fined up to $20,000. Repeat offenders could be jailed for up to 15 months and fined up to $40,000.

Going forward, first-time offenders could be jailed for up to two years and fined up to $50,000, while repeat offenders could be jailed for up to five years and fined up to $100,000, as part of stiffer penalties for offences involving all aircraft.

Drone users will have a three-month grace period from Jan 2 to register their devices. They can purchase registration labels online or over the counter at designated post offices, before completing the registration online.

7. HIGHER PAY FOR CLEANERS AND LANDSCAPE WORKERS

Cleaners and landscape maintenance workers will get bonuses from Jan 1 as well as annual pay rises in the next few years.

The measures are part of moves to lift the pay of lower-income workers at a time when issues such as inequality have been in the spotlight. They come under the Progressive Wage Model, which sets out the minimum pay for different job levels and pegs wage increases to a skills ladder.

 
 

Eligible staff in the landscaping sector will receive a mandatory annual bonus from next year. Landscape maintenance employees who are Singapore citizens or permanent residents and who have worked for the same employer for at least 12 months will be paid the bonus.

The payout in any given year must be no less than two weeks of the worker’s basic monthly wage. It has to be paid at least once but not more than twice a year.

Cleaners will also get a bonus from Jan 1, as well as 3 per cent annual wage increases from next year to 2022. This will be implemented for all licensed cleaning businesses and for all resident cleaners from July 1 next year.

8. E-SCOOTER BAN ON FOOTPATHS

Electric scooters were banned from footpaths on Nov 5 but riders of these personal mobility devices (PMDs) caught flouting the rule will be issued warnings instead until the end of the year.

 

But from Jan 1, strict enforcement of the rule will be done by the authorities. This means those caught can be fined up to $2,000, jailed up to three months, or both.

The new rule kicked in after a series of PMD-related accidents here, in which pedestrians were injured and a 65-year-old cyclist died. E-scooters can still be used on the 440km of network cycling paths, which the Government plans to triple by 2030.

9. COUPLES TO GET MORE HELP FOR ASSISTED REPRODUCTION

More couples will be able to get financial support for assisted reproduction.

The Government will also lift the age limit of 45 for women to undergo in-vitro fertilisation (IVF). The number of assisted reproduction technology (ART) cycles a woman can undergo will also no longer be capped.

 
 

At present, a woman is allowed to undergo only a maximum of 10 cycles up to the age of 40, and five cycles after that age. ART treatments include IVF.

From Jan 1, the Government will co-fund up to two ART cycles that are carried out when the woman is 40 or older, as long as the couple tried ART or intra-uterine insemination (IUI) procedures before the woman was 40.

It currently co-funds up to six ART cycles only for women who begin a cycle before turning 40. There is also no subsidy for those undergoing IUI procedures, which involve inserting a prepared sperm sample into the uterus, close to the time of ovulation.

From Jan 1, eligible couples going through IUI treatment at public assisted reproduction centres will get assistance of up to 75 per cent, capped at $1,000 per treatment cycle, for a maximum of three cycles.