Budget 2018 is a ‘strategic and integrated plan’ to build a better future for Singapore: PM Lee

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that while Singapore is on sound fiscal footing, the Government must plan ahead to ensure it can always afford to spend on what it needs.
Ministry of Communications and Information

The Singapore Budget 2018 is a “strategic and integrated plan” to build “a better future together” for Singaporeans, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Tuesday..

In a Facebook post, Mr Lee touched on measures announced by Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat on Monday in his Budget speech which included the introduction of a carbon tax and help for businesses to drive innovation.

He wrote: “What does it mean for business? For a vibrant and innovative economy, our businesses need to grow.”

“Government will support businesses to innovate and build capabilities through grants and help firms grow and internationalise. We will continue to help firms and workers develop digital capabilities and skills to adapt to the digital economy.”

Mr Heng had said that a productivity solutions grant will be be introduced for companies to access support to adopt off-the-shelf technology and productivity solutions.

He also announced that Singapore’s goods and services tax (GST) will be increased from 7% to 9% “some time” from 2021 to 2025.

In his post, Mr Lee said: “Government spending will rise, especially in healthcare, infrastructure, and security. While we are on sound fiscal footing, we must plan ahead to ensure that we can always afford to spend what we need.”

The GST increase he said, will be done in a “fair and progressive manner, and we will help households to cope with this change, especially poorer households.”

A one-off “SG Bonus” was also announced on Monday for adult Singaporeans, depending on their income. The bonus comes as the Government expects an overall budget surplus of S$9.6 billion ($7.3 billion), or 2.1% of GDP, for the 2017 financial year.

Mr Lee wrote: “Last year, we had a better-than-expected surplus.”

“Each Singaporean aged 21 and above receive an SG Bonus of $100 – $300 depending on income, as we share the fruits of Singapore’s prosperity.”