By Leong Sze Hian
I refer to the Department of Statistics’ Key Household Income Trends 2012.
$6,140 benefits per HDB 1 & 2-room household member?
It states that “On average, resident households received $1,340 of transfers per member from various government schemes in 2012. Those in HDB 1- & 2-room flats received the most, at an annual average of $6,140 per household member, followed by those in HDB 3-room flats at $1,530 per household member on average.
Benefits accounted for 75% of household income?
On per household member basis, government transfers as a proportion of annual household income from work were highest amongst resident householdsliving in HDB 1- & 2-room flats at 75 per cent. For households living in other dwelling types, this proportion ranged from 0.6 to 6.9 per cent.”
How much benefits exactly?
Let’s examine more closely the “annual average of $6,140 per household member” benefits and “75 per cent government transfers as a proportion of annual household income from work” that HDB 1- & 2-room households get.
Can be so many benefits are “Not Applicable”?
Government Transfers and Taxes
Government Transfers include the following in relevant years
a) New Singapore Shares and Economic Restructuring Shares, Growth Dividends, NS Bonus, GST Credits, Senior Citizen Bonus, National Service Recognition Awards, Top-Ups to CPF Accounts and GST vouchers; –
For the current year, the GST Cash Voucher is only $250?
b) Re-Employment Support Scheme, Workfare Bonus, Workfare Income Supplement disbursements and Workfare Training Support Scheme Benefits; –
If you are not 35 years and older earning $1,700 or less, Workfare Bonus and Workfare Income Supplement may not be applicable to you. If you did not lose your job or go for training, the Re-Employment Support Scheme and Workfare Training Support Scheme Benefits may not be applicable to you.
c) Rebates on utilities, rental and service and conservancy charges; –
Under the current GST Voucher scheme. the maximum Rebates on utilities for the lowest income is only $260, and there are no more Rebates on rental and service and conservancy charges.
d) Schemes relating to education, such as Edusave Pupil Fund, Edusave Merit Bursary, Edusave Awards and Edusave Scholarships for Government or Government Aided Schools. Also include CCC/CDC Bursary/ITE Scholarship from 2002 onwards, MOE Bursary, MOE Financial Assistance Scheme from 2006 onwards, Post-Secondary Education Accounts Top-up and government’s matching grant from 2008 onwards, Tertiary Tuition Fee Subsidy for Malay Students (TTFSM) from 2010 onwards, CET Qualification Award from 2011onwards and Short-term Study Assistance Scheme (SSAS) for IHLs in relevant years; –
If you do not have children, or did not go for training, much of the above may not be applicable to you.
e) Schemes relating to healthcare, such as subsidies for medical bills incurred at A&E, day surgery, hospitalisation episodes, Interim Disability Assistance Programme(IDAPE) from 2002 onwards. From 2006, also include subsidies for medical bills incurred at specialist outpatient clinics and polyclinics, Medifund disbursements. From 2009 onwards, also include Community Health Assist Scheme; –
If you did not go for medical treatment, much of the above may not be applicable to you.
f) Baby Bonus from 2001 onwards, Centre-based Infant and Childcare subsidies from 2002 onwards, schemes relating to ComCare programmes from 2004 onwards, Caregivers Training Grant from 2007 onwards and Assistive Technology Fund in relevant years; –
If you did not bore children or was not eligible to apply for financial assistance, much of the above may not be applicable to you.
g) CPF Deferment Bonus from 2008 onwards, CPF Life Bonus and Voluntary Deferment Bonus from 2009 onwards; –
If you are below age 55, or above age 55 and did not opt for or was not eligible for the CPF Life Bonus schemes, these benefits may not be applicable to you.
h) Public rental subsidies from 2003 onwards; –
If you did not rent a HDB flat under the Public Rental scheme, or you did meet the eligibility criteria, this benefit may not be applicable to you.
i) Income tax rebates and property tax rebates. –
If you don’t earn enough to pay income tax, or don’t own property, much of the above may not be applicable to you.
Could be hardly any benefits?
So, in summary, if you are say a lower-income Singaporean below 35 years old with no children who don’t own a HDB flat, was not hospitalised, didn’t lose your job, don’t earn enough to pay income tax or went for training, you may end up with hardly any of the benefits listed above.
Gini lower due to Government transfers and taxes?
Consequently, the following:-
“After adjusting for Government transfers and taxes, the Gini coefficient in 2012 was lower at 0.459, reflecting the redistributive effect of government transfers.
“The redistributive effect of government transfers and taxes was similarly reflected in the P90/P10 ratio, lowering the ratio from 9.14 times to 7.87 times in 2012″,
may also not be of much meaning to you.