Budget 2020: $1.6 billion package to help Singaporeans amid economic slowdown

A man walks along the Merlion Park, a major tourist attraction in Singapore. (PHOTO: LightRocket via Getty Images)
A man walks along the Merlion Park, a major tourist attraction in Singapore. (PHOTO: LightRocket via Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — A $1.6 billion package to help Singaporeans with their household expenses will be provided by the government amid the economic slowdown and the uncertainties of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

This is one of two packages – costing $5.6 billion in total – which will provide assistance to the economy, workers and enterprises, and Singaporean households, said Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat as he delivered Budget 2020 in Parliament on Tuesday (18 February)

The Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) has downgraded the GDP growth forecast from between 0.5 per cent and 2.5 per cent, to -0.5 per cent and 1.5 per cent.

“We are mindful that many families are facing greater pressures. During my fellow MPs’ and my own walkabouts, people often tell us that they are worried about job security and rising expenditures,” said Heng.

Explaining the various facets of the Care and Support Package, the 58-year-old told the House that all Singaporeans aged 21 and above will receive a one-off cash payout of $300, $200 or $100, depending on their income.

In addition, the annual GST Voucher - U-save rebates which help HDB households with their utilities expenses - will be doubled through a special one-off payment to all eligible households. The Service and Conservancy Charges rebate will also be extended by another year, with eligible households receiving rebates of between one and a half, and three and a half months.

Transport, grocery, eldercare and childcare handouts

Lower-income Singaporeans will get additional help with their daily living expenses. Heng noted that since October 2019, the transport fare increase has been cushioned for lower-income households via the Workfare Transport Concession Households and Public Transport Vouchers.

Singaporeans on Workfare, which provides payouts to the poorest households, will receive 20 per cent more for work done in 2019, with a minimum payment of $100 in cash. Needy Singaporeans will also receive grocery vouchers worth $100 each year in 2020 and 2021 for use at major supermarkets.

An additional GST Voucher-U Save rebate will be given to larger households with five or more members. These households can receive up to $1,000 in U-Save rebates.

Every adult Singaporean with at least one Singaporean child aged 20 and below will receive a $100 cash payout. Furthermore, a $100 top-up to the Passion Card will be given to all Singaporeans aged 50 and above, which can be used to pay for groceries, activities and facilities at community clubs.

In addition, $10 million and $20 million will be given to self-help groups and Community Development Councils respectively, to enable them to better help families and vulnerable groups.

Stay in the know on-the-go: Join Yahoo Singapore's Telegram channel at http://t.me/YahooSingapore

Related stories:

Budget 2020: More support for needy students and pre-schools

Budget 2020: Overall budget deficit of $10.9b expected for FY2020

Budget 2020: All vehicles to run on cleaner energy by 2040

Budget 2020: $5 billion fund for Singapore to combat rising sea levels

Budget 2020: S Pass ratio to be reduced to 15% for 3 sectors

Budget 2020: SkillsFuture expansion to aid Singaporeans' development

Budget 2020: GST increase will not take place in 2021

Budget 2020: $5.6B packages to help alleviate economic slowdown

UPDATES: Budget 2020: Singapore prepares S$6.4 billion for coronavirus relief measures