More than 70 per cent of Singaporeans support Budget 2015 initiatives: Reach poll

SINGAPORE - Some seven in 10 Singaporeans said they supported the initiatives introduced in this year's Budget, according to an annual post-Budget poll conducted by government feedback unit Reach.

Among those that got the highest approval were the Silver Support and SkillsFuture schemes, and the move to raise personal income tax rates for top earners.

The survey, to gauge Singaporeans' responses to last month's Budget announcements, was conducted by phone and involved 947 randomly selected citizens aged 20 and above. It was held from Feb 25 to Mar 6.

The sample was weighted so it would be representative of the national population in terms of gender, age and race.

The announcements that garnered the most support were Silver Support, with 77 per cent of respondents agreeing that it will give significant support to seniors in need, and SkillsFuture, with 72 per cent saying it will help individuals learn and develop throughout their lives.

Both were key pieces of this year's Budget. Silver Support gives low-income seniors quarterly cash payouts for life, while SkillsFuture gives every Singaporean adult an initial grant of $500 for approved training courses.

Some 72 per cent of respondents also welcomed the hike in income tax rates for top earners.

The income tax rates will go up for the top 5 per cent of income earners - those pulling in at least $160,000 a year - starting with income earned next year (2016).

This move is expected to net the Government about $400 million more a year, to help pay for more social spending.

Respondents also said they supported the changes to the Central Provident Fund scheme, such as the increase in the CPF salary ceiling from $5,000 to $6,000, and the increased CPF contribution rates for older workers aged 50 and above.

Some 60 per cent said that the increase in CPF salary ceiling will allow Singaporeans to save more for retirement.

In a press statement on Tuesday, Reach Chairman Amy Khor said: "Singaporeans have largely supported the key initiatives announced in Budget 2015. They have shown strong support for measures which aim to give greater assurance and opportunities to Singaporeans at every stage of their lives."

Dr Khor, who is also Senior Minister of State for Health and Manpower, added: "Many contributors have shared that this is a comprehensive, fair and inclusive Budget".