1. GST rebates for the low-income and more for senior citizens aged above 55
A total of 1.4 million Singaporeans will benefit from the GST rebate to the tune of $300 – with an additional $50. Previously, the GST rebate was $250.
Seniors age 55 years old and above will receive double – $600 and those age 65 years old and living in HDB estate will receive $900.
It is felt that the PAP is trying its utmost to reach out to the senior citizens who are mostly crippled by the high cost of living and little retirement means due to a lifelong slavery of low wages and our stifling CPF retirement scheme.
It is envisaged that a huge group of pro-PAP veterans may switch camp because of this survival issue.
2. The government will halve the maid’s worker levy from $120 to $60 for those families helping the elderly and young children for a year starting from May 1.
Though this move is laudable as it will help many middle income families who belong to the sandwiched generation, many Singaporeans often wonder what do the government does with the levy collected which can total a few billions a year?
Its a massive passive income enjoy by the government as more than 800,000 foreign workers working here currently are paying foreign worker levy which is borned mostly by the employers. More can be spelled out as to how the government spend the ultra-billion-dollar levy collected?
Moreover, most employers will pass the cost of the levies down to the consumers who will pay more either for services rendered or food consumed.
Our food prices have climb alot these past few years and this will surely be a key issue for the coming election rallies.
3. One-year road tax rebate of 20% for cars, 60% for motorcycles and 100% for light commercial car vehicles to offset higher petrol duties
This is a seldom heard of concession given and spell of early election call. Many also ponder why imposes higher petrol duty charge when petrol price has being sky-falling the past few months?
Its commonly believe by many that our government will give you one dollar and takes back two in return if not more.
Anyway, Singaporeans pay the highest cost of owning a private vehicle in the world and a huge part of the cost is earn by the government by way of a 10-year COE tenure. Our COE averages $60, 000 for all vehicle sizes and only the higher middle-income can afford to drive nowadays further driving up the class division of our society.
We now have the highest gini co-efficient status in the world and this does not augur well for everyone living here.
One also wonders can the government curb the vehicle inflow by way of COE but not to collect the levy money? Its another massive passive income designed by Minister Mah Bow Tan of which little is known of it’s usage.
Many people I heard could not afford another COE when their’s expired after 10 years and they have to ditch the cars in frustration as the COE has climbed too high for them to be able to afford.
They either switch to taking cabs daily or cram into sardined-like trains further frustrating them in the process.
Many middle-income voters will surely take transportation into consideration when they vote as it is something that affects their lifestyle and comfort.
4. For workers aged 50-55, the CPF contribution rate will go up by 2 percentage points in 2016; 55-60 up 1 point, and 60-65 up 0.5 point.
Our matured workers have a hard time coping with employment the past few years – many PMETs are unable to gain re-employment after retrenchment and some PMETs took to cab driving despite having tertiary education and decades of work experience.
Singapore is probably one of the few countries in a first world economy which discriminates against older workers blatantly – there are companies which do not hire even one matured worker in their workforce for various reasons.
Though this latest scheme is a laudable initiative to improve their CPF retirement funds, our matured workers could only gain from the CPF fund increase if they receive better employment protection from discriminating employers and gainfully continue working.
Many institutions still cut the pay of our matured workers if they decide to continue working with the companies after retirement and this is by far the most debilitating part of the discrimination process here.
Old is certainly gold as matured workers bring with them years of experience and a certain stability to every company that they work with – please don’t discriminate.
5. Waiver of exam fees in government schools
One wonders why the government still continue to collect exam fees for all primary school, secondary school and college students?
Is there not enough in the government coffers to discontinue this collection so that more Singaporeans can enjoy free education?
Can the government also do more for Singaporeans instead of subsidising foreign students to the tune of few hundred millions each year so that they can compete with us for jobs and a place in our country? Where is the rationale?
6. Personal income tax rebate of 50% up to $1000 for YA 2015
1.5 million Singaporeans will benefit from this tax rebate and many middle-income earners will probably smile heartily at this savings.
However, about 60% of Singaporeans earn $30, 000 and below and its unsure how many will actually benefit from this tax rebate.
We have one of the lowest income bracket in the civilised world and starting salary of $1800 to $2000 for fresh graduates is often heard of.
Matured workers often struggle to earn back the same salary they used to earn before retrenchment and most have to make do with 20% or even half of their former salary or else they will not be able to land that elusive job.
Foreigners arm with their third world degrees and low-salary enthusiasm are all queuing up for that dream job and a 2-year Employment Pass (EP) work permit readily awaits them if they could settle for a $3300-minimum salary.
Yes, foreign workers have a minimum salary to start off whereas our local PMETs have to bargain hard for something to survive on.
7. Income ceiling for CPF contributions will be raised from $5000 to $6000 – additional interest on retirement and medisave account
I don’t know if people will be happy with this latest ruling as more money will be shifted to the locked-in CPF scheme rendering them with lesser disposable income.
Many people have six-figure sum in their CPF account but hardly any money left in their savings account.
Our CPF money is often seen as locked-up and difficult to withdraw – probably used more by our sovereign funds for their own investment purposes than anything else.
Unless the CPF scheme is slowly being relaxed and we have more flexibility on how we can utlisie our own money, not many people will be keen to lock up any extra money with the CPF system.
Moreover, how many of us can earn up to $6000 a month in our country nowadays?
A “benefit” which will probably affect less than 15% of our working population.
The additional interest on the first $30,000 in the retirement, special or Medisave account is laudable though and long overdue.
8. SkillsFuture Credit of $500 for skills upgrading
In a continued effort to upgrade the skills of working Singaporeans, this new scheme will hopefully help many sidelined Singaporeans to pursue new skills to improve their employment opportunities.
Singaporeans are noted for upgrading and many working adults spent countless hours after work pursuing all kinds of night classes.
Many non-tertiary workers spent huge five-figure sum enrolling into third-party overseas degree courses in our private schools trying to self-improve because they constantly worry about their re-employment opportunities if should they one day be retrenched from their jobs.
We still boast of a very low tertiary enrolment for our local universities – only 26% of our PSLE cohort enters universities and most will not allow matured workers to study later on.
Many Singaporeans have to either study abroad at huge personal sum of money or make do with a diploma which will not really enhance their work opportunities very much.
Many Singaporeans struggle later on in life for lack of a tertiary education as many jobs require at least a degree qualification and our stringent enrolment requirement has prevented many from acquiring one.
9. Wage credit for companies
In the next two years, the government will co-fund 20% of the wage increase that is given to local employees earning wages of up to $4000.
This is down from the 40% wage subsidy given previously and aims to help local companies to restructure given the tight labour market situation here.
it is unsure if this is all good news as our local SMEs seem to flounder mostly and not many local companies could make it in the big league.
Except for Creative Technologies and maybe BreadTalk, there is not one other local company that could bring any pride for Singapore in the international arena.
Both Taiwan and S Korea have produce several world-class renowned companies that take the world by storm but there is hardly any which hails from Singapore.
Maybe our local companies have over-depend on small hand-out from our government so much so that their entrepreneurial spirit is crippled right from the start.
Many are happy just to make do in their own country and not ready to venture into the vast unknown.
Moreover, our over-dependence on MNCs to grow our economy will hurt us one day when we have become too expensive for them to relocate to our shore or there is a severe economy downsizing that cause them all to close down their operation.
10. More taxes for the super-rich
The super-rich will pay more from 20% to 22% in taxes for chargeable income of $320,000 and above.
For a society to be egalitarian, the rich should pay more taxes so that the poor can simply live.
We also hope that the government will use the extra collected to give back to the poor.
It will be unforgivable if the extra income is used to pay themselves or worse hoard in some surplus fund for investment.
There are plenty of needy households in Singapore these days and there ought to be a major mindset shift on how we can help these families.
Many are trapped in poverty and could not see the light even for their next generation as they struggle from hand to mouth due to various reasons.
Our single mums, disabled and low -ncome families all could benefit from more assistance in the near future.
Written by: Gilbert Goh