In Parliament today (6 Mar), National Development Minister Lawrence Wong told the House that all of the $7.7 billion additional surplus for the present financial year (FY2017) are being given back to Singaporeans.
Earlier, the PAP government announced that this FY has seen a bonus overall budget surplus of $9.61 billion for the year ending 31 Mar 2018. This is more than five times above the $1.91 billion official estimate, thanks largely to exceptional statutory board contributions and higher stamp duty collections. So, Minister Wong is saying that this additional $7.7 billion surplus above the $1.91 billion are being given back to all of us.
All of the unexpected budget surplus of $7.7 billion has been shared with Singaporeans in various ways, said Minister Wong. He told Singaporeans not to view the $700 million SG bonus “in isolation”. The government has earlier said that all Singaporeans from 21 and above will be receiving a one-time SG bonus of $100-300 each.
“We don’t save surpluses. We give them all back to Singaporeans but we give back in different forms,” he said.
“Some will be for spending (on) future needs. Some will be spending for current needs… and some will be through a direct transfer, like the SG bonus,” he added.
He then cited the setting aside of $5 billion for a Rail Infrastructure Fund “which will benefit all MRT commuters”, and $2 billion for ElderShield premium subsidies and other forms of support as part of the $7.7 billion too, in “giving back” to Singaporeans.
The Rail Infrastructure Fund was set up by the government to help finance transit projects such as the upcoming MRT Jurong Region Line and the MRT Cross Island Line.
As for premium subsidies, Minister Wong said, “These premium subsidies for lower- and middle-income Singaporeans will ensure that the enhanced ElderShield scheme remains affordable and the premium subsidies will directly benefit these individuals and their families.”
But of course, “premium subsidies” means these will be going back to ElderShield, a severe disability insurance scheme came up by the government.
He also mentioned the various support given to lower-income group, which no doubt, would encourage them to be “grateful” to the PAP government.
He urged Singaporeans to view the surplus “in totality”.
Meanwhile, the existing MRT services continue to be plagued with problems. Just few days ago, the Down Town Line (DTL) was hit by, yet another train signaling fault starting around 6:30am. It went on until the afternoon.