Even though Singapore is on track to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, the rising prices of goods and services are among the many issues that concern Singaporeans, especially low-income households.
The government has announced several initiatives to help them with their daily expenditures. Of note, 1.5 million Singaporeans will receive up to S$300 as part of a one-off special GST Voucher payout come August.
With the previously-announced GST Voucher-Cash (GSTV-Cash) voucher, eligible Singaporeans can get up to S$700 in August.
Speaking at a press conference, Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong announced that the new GST voucher is expected to benefit 1.5 million Singaporeans from the following “disproportionately impacted” groups:
With the GST Voucher – Cash announced earlier this year, eligible workers can receive up to S$700 in support in August.
Finance Minister Lawrence Wong said the additional support package will help vulnerable groups amid global inflation.
While Mr Wong said the inflationary situation will stabilise eventually, price increases are expected to continue in the coming months. In particular, energy prices is expected to remain “elevated” for the remainder of 2022.
Each Singaporean household will also receive a S$100 utilities credit to help with their bills.
Mr Wong also touched on two schemes that would better support the lower-income and the elderly — the ComCare scheme and the Singapore Allowance.
The ComCare scheme is targeted at households, providing assistance for the short, medium or long term.
Illustrating how the scheme would benefit these groups, the Ministry of Finance noted that a one-person household on long-term assistance would get financial support of S$640 per month.
Meanwhile, those on short-to-medium-term aid or applying to renew their assistance will also receive more support in terms of cash assistance and utility expenses.
The amount of cash assistance received depends on the household’s composition, needs, and income.
As for the Singapore Allowance, which helps pensioners who draw lower pensions, the monthly pension ceiling will be upped by S$30 each, to S$350 and S$1,280 respectively.
More targeted support measures will also be extended to those in industries most affected by recent events.
To help offset fuel expenses, eligible taxi main hirers and private hire car drivers will get a one-off relief of S$150 in August.
Similarly, eligible self-employed workers such as combi bus drivers, limousine drivers, as well as delivery drivers and motorcycle riders will receive up to S$300 cash. They must, however, be members of one of these two associations:
The authorities will waive one month of Foreign Worker Levy for 11 chicken slaughterhouses in Singapore that have been directly affected by Malaysia’s chicken export ban.
Despite the challenges identified, Mr Wong said there will be no further delays for the GST hike.
However, he once again assured residents that the majority of households will not “feel the impact” of the GST hike for at least five years.
As for lower-income households, the effects of the GST increase will not be felt for at least 10 years, said the Finance Minister.
In total, the support package announced on Tuesday (21 Jun) will amount to S$1.5 billion and will be funded by a “better than expected fiscal outtrun” for FY2021.
The Ministry of Finance shared that the surplus was due to two reasons:
Even though the Covid-19 pandemic has seemingly taken a back seat, there are other challenges that are plaguing the world and clearly, residents in Singapore are not immune.
We’re hence heartened by the proactive steps taken by the authorities to cushion the impact felt by vulnerable groups.
We hope the support measures will be enough to tide residents through the uncertain times ahead.
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Featured image adapted by MS News.
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