Adult Singaporeans will now get a one-off “SG Bonus” this year ranging from $100 to $300, depending on their income as the 2017 budget came in with a surplus of almost S$10 billion (US $7.6 billion), Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat announced on Monday.
The finance minister made the announcement during his budget speech in Parliament, describing the bonus as a “hongbao”, the Mandarin word for a monetary gift given on special occasions.
“It reflects the Government’s long-standing commitment to share the fruits of Singapore’s development with Singaporeans,” he said.
For financial year 2017, the Republic expects its biggest overall budget surplus at S$9.61 billion, owing mainly to “exceptional statutory board contributions” and “higher-than-expected” collections from stamp duties due to a recent pick-up in the property market, Today quoted the minister.
The “SG Bonus” which will cost the government S$700 million (US $533 million) will be paid according to people’s assessable income.
About 2.7 million people will get the payouts, which are due by the end of 2018.
Those with an income of S$28,000 or below will be eligible to receive S$300, those whose incomes ranging from S$28,001 to S$100,000 will receive S$200, and those with incomes in excess of S$100,000 will receive S$100.
The minister however stressed: “We do not expect either to occur every year. It is not a structural surplus. We cannot base our long-term fiscal planning on the basis of exceptional factors being positive, year after year.”
Singapore’s revised budget for fiscal 2017 showed a surplus of S$9.61 billion, thanks to contributions from statutory boards and higher-than-expected stamp duty.
Heng said the surplus will also be used in other ways with S$5 billion set aside for the Rail Infrastructure Fund to save up for new railway lines that Singapore is building.
Another S$2 billion will be set aside for premium subsidies and other forms of support for Eldershield, an insurance scheme that helps senior citizens with severe disabilities to cope with the financial demands of their daily care.
This is not the first time for the Singaporean government to give cash payouts.
In 2011, adult Singaporeans with annual income of up to S$30,000 were given S$800, while those earning more than S$100,000 received S$100.
Growth dividends varying from S$100 to S$700 were also given out to Singaporeans aged 21 and above in 2008.