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State to pay bonus to citizens from surplus budget

By Sara Okuoro | Published Tue, February 20th 2018 at 15:57, Updated February 20th 2018 at 16:42 GMT +3
Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat presenting the Singapore Budget 2018 in Parliament [Photo Courtesy]

The Singapore Government will award all citizens aged 21 years and above a one-off bonus of up to S$300 (Sh23,000).

Singapore’s Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat Monday announced that the 2017 budget came in with a surplus of about S$10 billion (Sh767.6b).  

This is attributed to contributions from statutory boards, mainly from the Monetary Authority of Singapore and higher stamp duty collections due to property market pick-up.

"We do not expect either to occur every year; it is not a structural surplus," said Mr Heng.

During his budget speech in Parliament, the city-state’s Finance Minister described the bonus as a ‘hongbao’, the Mandarin word for a monetary gift given on special occasions.

“This reflects the government’s long-standing commitment to share of the fruits of Singapore’s development with Singaporeans,” said the Minister.

About 2.7 million Singaporeans will receive a bonus ranging from S$100-300 (Sh7,672 – 23,000) depending on their income by the end of 2018.

Those with an assessable income of $28,000 (Sh2.1 million) and below during the last financial year will be awarded $300 (Sh23,000) while those earning between $28,001 and $100,000 (Sh2.1m to Sh7.6m) will get Sh15,350 (S$200). A bonus of $100 (Sh7,672) will be given to those earning more than $100,000 (Sh7.6m) or who own more than one property.

The SG bonus will cost the Government about S$700 million (Sh53.7 billion).

How the surplus will be distributed

Apart from dishing out bonuses to its citizens, the Singapore Government has also set out to use the surplus money to improve the infrastructure and boost other state functions.

Minister Heng Swee Keat said S$5 billion (Sh383.7b) will be budgeted for the Rail Infrastructure Fund to save up for new railway lines.

Another S$2 billion (Sh153.6b) will be allocated to premium subsidies and state-owned insurance scheme for senior citizens with disabilities.

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