‘SG Bonus’ is like giving you ‘peanuts’ and taking back ‘a pound of flesh’?

I refer to the article “$700m SG Bonus to be paid out to 2.8m S’poreans by December” (Straits Times, Sep 29).

A total of 2.8 million Singaporeans will receive letters from 2 October 2018 onwards, informing them of their SG Bonus benefit, which will be paid out to citizens by December 2018.

The Ministry of Finance (MOF) announced on Friday, that citizens may use their SingPass to view their SG Bonus benefit online at the SG Bonus website, which will be accessible from 2 October 2018 onwards.

The ministry added that those who have registered their mobile numbers with SingPass will also receive SMS notifications.

As announced at Budget 2018, MOF said that the Government will be giving a one-off SG Bonus to all adult Singaporeans this year, which reflects the Government’s long-standing commitment to share the fruits of the country’s development with Singaporeans.

According to the ministry, eligible citizens will receive up to $300, depending on their Assessable Income (AI) for the Year of Assessment (YA) 2017.

Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat had said in this year’s Budget speech that the bonus comes with an expected overall Budget surplus of $9.6 billion, or 2.1 per cent of gross domestic product, for the 2017 financial year.

The surplus was markedly higher than the $1.9 billion forecast a year ago, mainly because of exceptional statutory board contributions of $4.6 billion. The SG Bonus will be given on top of the Goods and Services Tax Voucher scheme, and service and conservancy charges rebate for eligible Singaporeans.

On top of ‘the expected overall Budget surplus of $9.6 billion, or 2.1 per cent of gross domestic product, for the 2017 financial year’ – we make so much money from Singaporeans, from CPF, HDB, etc, that this $700 million may be like ‘peanuts’, whilst they take ‘a pound of flesh’ back from us.

For example, our CPF balances is $376.6 billion as of June 2018. If the difference between the weighted average interest annually on all CPF accounts and the annualised returns from inception of GIC is say 2% – the ‘pound of flesh’ that is being taken from us, may be about $7.53 billion ($376.6 x 2%) a year.

In this connection, the Government should disclose the statistics on the weighted average annual interest on all CPF accounts vis-a-vis the annualised returns in S$ of GIC, historically, in the public interest, and in line with the online falsehoods’ committee’s recommendation that the Government should give the reasons for decisions not to disclose information to the public, and to gain the public’s trust.

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