Everyone on your friend list is probably talking about the Budget 2019, and by now, you’ve heard snippets of it— and you’ve definitely seen all the memes of Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat smiling and waving – but what’s in it for you? We break it down into seven savvy insights so you can reap the benefits.
We All Get Free Money
Well, it’s about as close to free money as you can possibly get. In line with commemorating Singapore’s Bicentennial, $1.1 billion has been earmarked to be distributed to all Singaporeans (21 years and above), which will work out to be approximately $500 in cash ($150 to $300 in GST vouchers, depending on the value of one’s home) and a 50 per cent personal income tax break (capped at $200). We predict many Singaporeans booking extended weekend trips with these savings in the coming months. BTW, if you’re staying in a HDB flat, you’ll also continue to get another year of Service and Conservancy Charges (S&CC) rebates of between one-and-a-half months and three-and-a-half months.
Giving Back Becomes Easier
Making it more attractive to give back to society, $200 million has been set aside for the Bicentennial Community Fund to encourage all Singaporeans to give a little to those in need. The fund will provide dollar-for-dollar matching donations made to Institutions of a Public Character (organisations approved by the Commissioner of Charities to receive tax-deductible donations) from April 1, 2019 to March 31, 2020. Not that you need an excuse to do good, but this might make it even more compelling to do so.
Time To Upskill
Are you looking to re-enter the workforce or do a mid-career switch? Why not try a new area relating to blockchain technologies, embedded software and prefabrication? New Professional Conversion Programmes (PCPs) will be launched relating to these new growth areas — a welcome boost given the increasingly competitive and technology-intensive environment. Since 2007, more than 100 PCPs have been launched in about 30 sectors, which means you’ll also be expanding your career opportunities.
Become The Global Girlboss
If you’re already running a Small Medium Entreprise (SME), the $100 million SME Co-Investment Fund III is the perfect opportunity to scale-up through government-funded programmes designed to boost the innovation, growth and geographical presence of your business. Additionally, a pilot Innovation Agents programme will make available a pool of experts to lend their expertise on innovating and commercialising technology so you’re not navigating blindly. The SME Working Capital Loan scheme will also be extended for about two more years, till March 2021, to support SMEs in their day-to-day operations. No better time than now to grow your business to new heights.
You Get A Hand Up
If you qualify for Workfare Income Supplement (WIS), take heart: there’s been an additional $206 million set aside for cash payouts and CPF top-ups. More low-income individuals who are 35-years and above will be able to get help, with the Government planning on raising the qualifying income cap for WIS to $2,300 per month from 2020 (presently it is $2,000). The maximum annual payouts will also be increased by up to $400, which will lighten the financial burden.
Long-term Healthcare Gets a Boost
While other global economies face crippling healthcare costs, it’s encouraging to see the Singapore Government working on building a sustainable healthcare system. As part of the budget, $5.1 billion will be set aside for a Long-Term Care Support Fund to help Singaporeans with long-term (and likely costly) care through CareShield Life premium subsidies and an enhanced ElderShield scheme. Also, the CHAS (Community Health Assist Scheme) will now cover all Singaporeans with chronic conditions, regardless of income. Subsidies for common illnesses are extended to citizens with the CHAS orange card, as well as those with complex chronic conditions. Great news for those who are always nursing a cold.
A Broader Grandparents Caregiver Relief Scheme
There’s a saying that it takes a village to raise a child and that’s the truth. Previously, working mothers could only claim up to $3,000 of income tax relief for parents, grandparents, parents-in-law or grandparents-in-law engaged to help a child aged 12 years and below. This has changed with the new budget from YA2020 — mothers can now claim for tax relief, regardless of the child’s age. This is to reflect the care for a handicapped and unmarried dependent child – a step in the right direction towards assisting those who may need a helping hand for longer.
Become A Next Gen Leader
Leaders come in all forms and if you’re keen to become a next gen leader, the partnership between Youth Corps Singapore — which encourages Singaporeans between 15 and 35 to volunteer — and Institutes of Higher Learning will prove interesting. The partnership will see them work together to develop young community leaders. Youths will undergo structured training to get equipped with skills to better lead and serve the community. They will also have access to resources, networks and further development opportunities. Local and overseas internship programmes will also be combined into a single Global Ready Talent Programme (GRTP), whereby funding support is given to students who plan to intern overseas with Singaporean firms. The GRTP will also support high-growth Singapore firms, to send Singaporeans with up to three years of working experience for postings in markets such as South-east Asia, China and India. What this means is the world is your oyster.
Text: Charlene Fang