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Date [ 2015-02-28, 05:55 ]

The island-state prepares itself for the future.


(Singapore=Koreanpress) Benjamin Kim = BUILDING OUR FUTURE, STRENGTHENING SOCIAL SECURITY – this is the theme the Government has adopted for this year’s budget.

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam delivered the Singapore Government’s Budget Statement for Financial Year 2015 in Parliament on Monday, 23 February 2015.

This Budget builds on the transformation of Singapore in its first 50 years as an independent country, to give Singaporeans greater assurance at each stage of life, more opportunities, and a better home for all. It is a Budget focused on building Singapore’s future - with firms driven by innovation, with deep skills and expertise in every job, and a society that is fair and just. The highlights of the Budget are:

In Education
Provide professional education and career counselling  to help students make informed choices. Alos the Skills Future Credit with an initial credit of S$500 for Singaporeans 25 and above for Work- skills related courses. The Skills Earn & Learn Programme which matches Polytechnic and ITE graduates with employers for structured on-the-job training and mentorship leading to industry qualifications. Substantial funding support for both trainees and employers.

Support in Mid-Career for Singaporeans 40 and above. SkillsFuture Study Award to develop specialist skills in future growth clusters. SkilllsFuture Fellowships to achieve mastery in diverse fields. SkillsFuture Leadership Development Initiative for companies to grow Singaporean corporate leaders.   

In Business  

To give businesses more time to adjust to rising costs as they restructure, the Transition Support Package (TSP) will be phased out gradually, via the Wage Credit Scheme – this will be extended for two years from 2016 – 2017.
The Corporate Income Tax Rebate will be extended for two years from Year of
 Assessment(YA) 2016 – 2017. Productivity & Innovation Credit(PIC)  expires in 2015 but PIC and PIC+ will  continue YA 2018.
                                                       
Temporary Employment Credit will offset employers’ Central Provident Fund Board contributions and is computed as per cent age of wages – for 2015 -+0.5%, 2016 – 1%, 2017 – 0.5%

Foreign Workforce will have a slower pace of tightening. For S Pass (Skilled & Semiskilled Workers), the announced levy increase for all sectors will be deferred to 2016. Work Permit Holders for the Manufacturing Sector will have their levies frozen at 2014 levels for 2015 and 2016.
                                                                                       
 For the Services, Marine and Process sectors, this year’s announced levy will be deferred  to 2016.  For the Construction sector, levy will be reduced for R1(highly skilled) workers, in 2015 and 2016.  But raised for R2 (basic skilled)  workers over 2015 to 2017.

CPF Savings
 
The intention is to help Singaporeans save more WHILE working. Thus the salary ceiling has now been raised to $S6,000 from 2016. The Supplementary Retirement Scheme Contribution has increased. For those between 50 – 55, both
employers  and employees now contribute 1% more each. For the 55 – 60, only the employer contributes 1% more. For the 60 – 65, again only the employer contributes 0.5 % more.

 Working beyond 65 and above is now possible. They are entitled to the  Higher Special Employment Credit. Their employers will get more help with CPF contributions increasing from 8.5% to 11.5% of wages in 2015.

Under the Silver Support Scheme, income for those 65 and above, will be supplemented. This is for those in the bottom 20% to 30% and based on their lifetime wages, the household support they get and the type of flat they live in. They will get a cash supplement of $S300 to $S750 every three months. These senior citizens need not apply for the Silver Support Scheme as they will be automatically eligible for it. It will fully come into effect in 1Q2016 and until then those eligible will receive the Goods & Service Tax(GST) Voucher – Senior’s Bonus.  This will give them $S600 each.

Family and Community

There is now a Concession Levy for foreign domestic workers. This has been reduced to $S60  per month for households with caregiving needs. It is also extended to household with children 16 years and below.

GST Vouchers – this is a $S50 increase across the board. The payout is as follows: for those 54 and below -  $S150 - $S300, Cash & Seniors’ Bonus for those 55 to 64 $S300 to $S600, Cash & Seniors’ Bonus for those 65 & above $S300 to $S900.

Taxes

Personal Income Tax (PIT) has a more progressive PIT rate structure constructed for YA 2017. This has the top marginal tax rate increased from 20% to 22% for chargeable income above $S320,000.  Also marginal tax rates for chargeable incomes above $S160,000 to $S320,00 by 1 to 2%. There is also a one-off PIT rebate for YA 2015. The rebate of 50% is capped at $S1,000.

Vehicle Taxes have incentives introduced by the Government , one of which is the Carbon Emissions–Based Vehicle Scheme. This will run for two years from July 1, 2015 to June30, 2017. The aim is to encourage a shift to greener vehicles.
                                       
Petrol Duty rates have remained unchanged from 2003 and will now go  up by $S0.15/$S0.20 per litre  from February 23, 2015 onwards. To  offset higher petrol duties the Road Tax Rebate will be from 20% to 100% for petrol vehicles

Summary

The Government has tried to make life for middle income families as best as possible. Realizing their children’s education is a key feature in their enhancement, the Government in addition to other perks, has given a full waiver of national examination fees. To keep the cost of living down, in addition to the schemes already mentioned, the Government  has introduced higher healthcare subsidies along with a number of rebates. The final aim is to make Singapore a highly livable city.

abc@koreanpress.net

 
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