DPM Tharman: 2014 Budget expects a deficit of $0.1bil, down from $1.2bil. Overall inflation expected to be close to zero in 2015.
DPM warns of stagnating income as economy advances and income rises. Median household income in Singapore has increased by 38% in past decade.
Four key areas for Budget 2015: Invest in skills of the future (meritocracy of skills); restructure economy and support next generation of business successes (innovation and productivity); invest in economic and social infrastructure; strengthen assurance in retirement.
Five growth clusters of the future: Advanced engineering (e.g. robotics; healthcare cluster; smart and sustainable urban solutions; logistics and aerospace (entrenching our status as a hub); Asian finance and wealth management.
DPM Tharman: Achieving deep skills requires more than programmes and government support. We also need a culture of continual learning, investment by employers, employee empowerment, and fostering a collaborative culture.
An inclusive society will be achieved by building stronger social safety net: Enhancing CPF, build Silver Support scheme, and encourage spirit of philanthropy and giving.
Developing our people
Enhanced subsidies under SkillsFuture initiative; top up national productivity fund by $1.3mil; provide more career counsellors for schools and adult learners; improve internships locally and abroad.
Subsidies for mid-career workers to be enhanced for government-approved courses, to be done later in the year.
About 2,000 SkiilFuture study awards and 100 SkillsFuture Fellowships (implemented in 2016).
Investing in innovation and internationalisation
Support for productivity to be maintained, with renewed efforts in encouraging innovation. Earlier transition support package cost $7.5bil over three years. Wage Credit scheme to be extended for two years, but government subsidy rate will be reduced from 40% to 20%.
Productivity and Innovation Credit Bonus scheme to be be allowed to expire in 2015.
Defer this year’s announcements of foreign worker levies to allow SMEs to adjust to a tighter labour market, but aim to remain the same: To reduce reliance on foreign manpower.
Strengthen grant support for every form of innovation – simplify application for projects less than $30,000, and extend 70% of funding for 3 more years.
DPM Tharman: “I will top up National Research Fund by $1bil this year.”
Increase support to 70% for IE Singapore grants, enhance double tax deductions, and improve international growth scheme.
Enhance CPF system to increase CPF contribution during working years, increasing CPF salary ceiling from $5,000 to $6,000, and increasing cap for supplementary support scheme.
Revising CPF interest rates – first $30k 6%, next $30k 5%, above $60k 4%.
Silver Support Scheme to consider lifetime wages, level of household support and housing type. Generally, more for those who need more ($300 to $750 every 3 months).
Silver Support Scheme expected to cost $350mil in the first year, and expected to rise. System has to be developed before it can be rolled out, expected first quarter of 2016.
Childcare and education
Waive fees for national examinations from primary school to post-secondary levels, $150 top-ups for Edusave for children aged 7 to 16, and new transport subsidy to cover 50% of school bus and public transport costs.
Top ups to post-secondary education account for 17 to 20 year-olds of between $250 and $500, in total costing $250mil.
Increase of $50 for GST Vouchers for all groups, $300 for those aged 55-64, $500 for those aged 65 living in HDB flats.
Increase of $50 for GST Vouchers for all groups, $300 for those aged 55-64, $500 for those aged 65 living in HDB flats. $717mil in tax rebates.
Low-carbon vehicle rebates to be increased. Petrol duty to be increased by 15-20 cents. One-year road tax rebates 20% for cars, 60% for motorcycles, 100% for commercial vehicles.
Personal marginal tax rate for top 5% of income earners (at least $160,000 a year) to increase from 20% to 22% by 2017. Total to raise $400mil a year.