Budget 2024: S’porean households to get $600 in CDC vouchers as part of enhanced Assurance Package, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Budget 2024: S’porean households to get $600 in CDC vouchers as part of enhanced Assurance Package

Singaporeans will get a mix of cash, vouchers and rebates under a $1.9 billion boost to the Assurance Package to help them cope with cost-of-living concerns and an uncertain economic outlook.

The aim is for lower-income families and larger households – especially those with seniors and children – to get more support, said Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Lawrence Wong in his Budget speech in Parliament on Feb 16.

Among the enhancements are an additional $600 in Community Development Council (CDC) vouchers for about 1.4 million Singaporean households. The first $300 will be disbursed in end-June in 2024, and the remaining $300 will be disbursed in January 2025. Each tranche of the vouchers will be split equally for spending at participating merchants and hawkers, and supermarkets.

A Cost-of-Living special payment of between $200 and $400 in cash will be given to eligible Singaporeans in September 2024. To qualify, people must be aged 21 and above in 2024, reside in Singapore, own not more than one property, and have an assessable income of up to $100,000. This will benefit about 2.5 million adult Singaporeans.

In January 2025, a one-off service and conservancy charges (S&CC) rebate will be given to over 950,000 Singaporean households to offset 0.5 month of the charges. Together with the regular S&CC rebates, eligible households in Housing Board flats will receive up to four months of such rebates in the financial year 2024.

An additional one-off U-Save rebate will help over 950,000 Singaporean HDB households with increases in their utility bills. Eligible households can receive 2.5 times the amount of regular U-Save rebates, or up to $950, in the financial year 2024. This will cover about four months of utility bills for those living in three- and four-room flats, and will be disbursed in April, July and October in 2024, and in January 2025.

In his speech, titled Building Our Shared Future Together, Mr Wong noted that while inflation had started to moderate in 2023, economic growth also slowed and real incomes declined.

The Government had picked up early indicators of this negative trend, he said. As a result, it introduced the Cost-of-Living Support Package in September 2023, and enhanced the Assurance Package to over $10 billion.

He cited an example of how a lower-income household of four, with two young children, will benefit under the enhancements to the Assurance Package. Such a household will receive about $5,500 in benefits in the financial year 2024, comprising cash, MediSave top-ups, U-Save and S&CC rebates, and CDC vouchers.

A middle-income household of four, with two young children, will receive about $3,000 in benefits.

And a middle-income household of six, including two seniors and two young children, will receive about $8,000 in benefits.

“Let me assure everyone: We will always have your backs,” DPM Wong said.

Beyond the Assurance Package, the GST Voucher Fund will also be topped up by $6 billion.

“This delivers on our commitment to permanently defray GST expenses for lower- and middle-income households, through the GST Voucher Scheme,” Mr Wong said.

An Enterprise Support package worth $1.3 billion will also be introduced to help businesses manage rising costs in wage bills, rental, utilities and other costs. This includes a corporate income tax rebate and cash payouts for companies which employed at least one local employee in 2023.

The Enterprise Financing Scheme will also be enhanced to help Singapore enterprises with financing needs and the SkillsFuture Enterprise Credit extended by a year.

“The enhanced Assurance Package and the Enterprise Support Package will provide some near-term relief to Singaporean households and firms. These are needed during this difficult period when inflation, while moderating, remains on the high side,” said Mr Wong.

However, he acknowledged that these are not permanent solutions.

“Over the longer term, the best way to deal with inflation is to ensure that our firms and workers are more productive, and that real incomes continue to rise sustainably.”