A LOOMING election compounded by a global crisis makes for a generous budget.
On paper, the signs of largesse are evident in Budget 2020, delivered by Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat.
The numbers sound impressive, until you read on and understand the mechanics of how they will be distributed.
With the sudden onset of Covid-19, the midnight oil would have been lit at the ministries to reframe the original budget to cope with this global crisis. The economic impact of the reaction to the Coronavirus could have a long tail that would whip through an economy that has been struggling in the wake of global socio-economic and socio-political situations.
The Budget is viewed by many to be generous, thoughtful and helpful. There is the inevitable “but”, as those who have been through many budget scenarios will recall what worked and what didn’t when it came to accessing the benefits.
We speak to those on the ground, to get their opinions on Budget 2020. Their views are in the accompanying articles, in response to what they thought worked with Budget 2020 and where they feel it could have been better.
Why The Differentiation?
I’ve always wondered why the government differentiates payment by type of house. Other than presumed political motivation and to ensure support from those in public housing, there’s no reasonable explanation offered.
For Budget 2020, Minister Heng said a $1.6 billion Care and Support Package to benefit adult Singaporeans will be made available to help defray household expenses amid the Coronavirus outbreak and economic weakness.
But these one-off cash payouts of $100, $200 or $300 in 2020, will be given out depending on income in 2019 and home ownership.
This doesn’t make sense. Does the Coronavirus choose victims based on their property type? Shouldn’t everyone get the same amount since we are all potentially at risk?
While many laud the fact the goods and services tax (GST) will not be imposed, there are questions about the need for any increase at all. Some ask for personal taxes to be reduced during these trying times.
But what’s for the future? What is Singapore building on? Going electric is globally accepted as a must do for 1st world countries, but it does mean that the government will have to think about all the taxes it would be losing from internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles and the best route to recoup that (and more) since this is an easy way to grow the coffers.
Where are the future jobs going to be created? What will happen to an aging society that instead of being cared for for their contributions to nation building finds itself still forced to pay its way in an increasingly expensive country?
There are still questions that can be asked about this and future budgets. But let’s hope Covid-19 beats a hasty retreat soon and lets some semblance of normalcy return.
Links to all the Budget 2020 reaction articles: