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Budget Speech 2008

Posted by theonlinecitizen on February 15, 2008

This is an extract from the Budget Speech by Minister of Finance, Tharman Shanmugaratnam.

Enhancing Financial Security in Retirement

This year, we are moving on four further initiatives to help ensure adequate savings for retirement.

Voluntary Savings

Firstly, we will encourage Singaporeans to voluntarily put aside more savings whenever they can. We will make it easier for Singaporeans to top up CPF accounts for themselves and their family members in order to meet the Minimum Sum, and we will provide more tax incentives for them to do so.

The Ministry of Manpower will now allow members below 55 to top up their CPF savings up to the Minimum Sum. Further, employers will now be allowed to make top-ups to their employees’ Minimum Sum.

To encourage topping-up of CPF accounts, I will broaden the tax reliefs currently available. Today, there is a single $7,000 tax relief available for qualifying Minimum Sum top-ups either for oneself or family members, provided the beneficiary is 55 and above. I will allow two separate tax reliefs – up to $7,000 for top-ups by the member or his employer to his own Minimum Sum, and up to another $7,000 for top-ups to their family members’ Minimum Sum.

Both reliefs will apply regardless of the age of the recipient when the top-ups are made. Employers will also enjoy a full tax deduction for top-ups to their employees’ accounts.

To encourage savings to meet medical needs, I will also provide tax relief for voluntary contributions that CPF members specifically direct to the Medisave Account. This will help more CPF members meet the Medisave Minimum Sum.

The Supplementary Retirement Scheme (SRS) provides a tax incentive for Singaporeans as well as foreigners to save for retirement outside of the CPF scheme. Today, only employees are allowed to contribute to the SRS. To enable employers to play a part towards the retirement savings of their employees, we will allow them to directly contribute to the SRS on behalf of their employees. This will provide an inexpensive method for employers to provide retirement benefits without the need to set up company pension funds, which may have high overheads. With more Singaporeans now working beyond the retirement age, we will also remove the age limit on contributions to the SRS.

LIFE Bonus

As Minister Ng Eng Hen has recently stated, the Government has accepted the recommendations of the National Longevity Insurance Committee on the CPF LIFE scheme. It puts in place a major new plank to ensure Singaporeans a stream of income for as long as they live.

From 2013, CPF members will join CPF LIFE automatically when they turn 55 as long as they have at least $40,000 in their Minimum Sum. The first cohort to do this will be those aged 50 this year. We also want to encourage those with less than $40,000 as well as members who are older than 50 this year to join the scheme when they turn 55.

We have decided to provide a special bonus to the first few cohorts of CPF members who will participate in CPF LIFE. These older cohorts generally earned less over their working years compared to what younger Singaporeans currently have and can look forward to. By the time they join CPF LIFE, they would also have had less time to benefit from the extra 1% interest that CPF members now receive on the first $60,000 of their CPF balances. Younger cohorts will also be able to benefit from more years under the WIS scheme, which provides significant top-ups into their CPF accounts (plus cash payments).

The Government will provide a bonus for the first five cohorts of CPF members who join CPF LIFE, in other words, those aged 46 to 50 this year. We call this the LIFE Bonus, or the L-Bonus. It will be given to members when they enrol in the scheme at age 55.

The L-Bonus is targeted at the lower and middle-income CPF members. The L-Bonus will be given to members whose annual income when they join the LIFE scheme is $54,000 or less, and whose annual assessed property value is $11,000 or less, which will include all HDB flats. These make up about 80 percent of the cohort aged 50 today, including those whose Minimum Sums are too low for them to be automatically enrolled in the LIFE scheme.

The amount of the L-Bonus will vary such that older and less well-off members will receive more. For members aged 50 this year, they can expect to receive between $2,200 and $4,000. A 50-year-old who lives in a five-room flat and earns between $24,000 and $54,000 will receive $2,200. However, a 50-year-old who lives in a three-room flat and earns less than $24,000 annually will receive $4,000 when he joins the LIFE scheme. If he has $40,000 in his Minimum Sum, this amounts to 10% of his retirement savings.

The youngest eligible cohort, those aged 46 today, will get around 30% of what the 50-year old receives.

Professor Lim Pin’s committee had recommended that the Government provide a one-off incentive to facilitate greater participation and opt-in by members who are not automatically included in the scheme. The Government agrees with the committee’s recommendation and will extend the L-Bonus to this group of members.

Therefore, if members have less than $40,000 in their Minimum Sum, but want to participate in the LIFE scheme, we will help them to do so and give them the L-Bonus as long as they are willing to make a reasonable contribution to their balances and accept lower monthly payouts.

This is particularly important for many of the women, who may have been housewives or stopped working early and do not have enough in their accounts. The L-Bonus will encourage their husbands or other family members to top up their accounts so that they can join the scheme.

We will also extend the L-Bonus to older members above the age of 50 this year who choose to opt into the scheme. They can opt in when they reach 55. (But if they have already passed 55 when the scheme is introduced, they will have to opt in within a year from then.) All these older members who choose to opt in will receive the same amount of L-Bonuses as those aged 50 this year.

The Government will set aside $770 million over three years for the L-Bonuses, including $260 million out of this year’s budget.

Helping Singaporeans Meet Healthcare Needs

We are investing heavily in healthcare. The Government is spending $900 million over the next five years to upgrade and expand facilities at NUH, SGH, and the National Heart Centre, and to build the new Khoo Teck Puat Hospital in Yishun. We will also spend another $1 billion over the next five years to recruit and train more healthcare professionals, including not only doctors, but also pharmacists, physiotherapists and other allied health professionals in the public sector. This is on top of the additional 40% more nurses that we had previously committed to bring into the public sector. It will mean more well-qualified staff to take care of each patient.

But as we spend more on healthcare, we must ensure that our commitment can be sustained not just for a few years, but over the long term. Means-testing has had a thorough debate over the past several weeks. It is the only realistic way to ensure that high quality healthcare can be delivered to all, including lower-income patients, without placing an unsustainable burden on taxpayers as a whole. Minister Khaw Boon Wan has assured Singaporeans that he is sensitive to the concerns of the middle-income group, who will continue to be subsidised at Class C and B2 wards, though at a reduced rate as compared to the low-income patients.

To protect retirement savings from being depleted by heavy expenses due to catastrophic illnesses, we must also ensure that our people are adequately covered by medical insurance.

  1. MOH will be enhancing MediShield to provide better coverage for patients with large hospital bills, with some adjustment to MediShield premiums in tandem. To help older Singaporeans pay for their medical bills and their increased MediShield premiums, we will top up the Medisave accounts of all those aged 51 and above by up to $450 this year. This will cost the Government $220 million.

We are also setting aside more funds to help the elderly and needy. The ElderCare Fund is already being fully utilised to support older Singaporeans who need long-term care in nursing homes and other step-down care facilities. We will top up the ElderCare Fund by $400 million this year, bringing its size to $1.5 billion. Medifund, which supports the needy, is also being well utilised. We will top it up by $200 million this year, bringing the fund size to $1.6 billion.

Taking Care of the Vulnerable

We will continue to refine the safety nets to help the most vulnerable in the community. We have to do this in a calibrated fashion because the last thing we should do is to weaken the incentive for individuals to find a job and stay in one, or undermine the responsibility that family members have towards each other. These twin values have underpinned our programmes for social assistance and will continue to do so.

The Public Assistance (PA) Scheme applies to needy Singaporeans who are unable to work and have no other means of support. In addition to their PA allowance, they are given a PA card which makes them eligible for free healthcare and many other subsidies, as well as extensive community support. Last year, we raised the monthly PA rates to $290.

Many, including our MPs, have asked that the PA rates be reviewed again. MCYS has done so. Following this review, the Government has decided to increase the monthly PA rate for a single-person household further to $330. This will give households on Public Assistance more assurance that they can meet their basic needs. Minister Vivian Balakrishnan will provide more details in the MCYS COS, including other changes to the Public Assistance Scheme.

I will also top up the ComCare Fund by $200 million this year, bringing it to $800 million. This will support our efforts to help the needy to obtain jobs, look after their children’s needs and integrate into the community.

Surplus Sharing

2007 was a good year for Singapore. Our fiscal position is strong. We can therefore afford to share some of the budget surplus with Singaporeans. I will distribute the surplus to all Singaporeans, but with particular focus on the lower and middle-income groups and older Singaporeans. Their needs are greater, and they are more affected than better-off Singaporeans in the current climate of rising prices.

I had earlier in the speech announced top-ups to the Post-Secondary Education Accounts and Medisave accounts, as well as Personal Income Tax rebates, as part of this surplus sharing exercise.

I have also decided to give Growth Dividends to all adult Singaporeans, to be paid out in two instalments in April and October this year. Those who have already signed up for their GST credits will automatically receive their Growth Dividends.

We will give the needy more, using the same framework that has been used for GST Credits. A lower-income Singaporean living in a three-room HDB flat or smaller, will receive a Growth Dividend of $400. This is on top of the $250 in GST Credits that he will be getting this year. The majority of Singaporeans, who live in other HDB flats and do not have high incomes, will receive a Growth Dividend of $300 (on top of $200 in GST Credits that he will get this year).

I will give older Singaporeans, those aged 60 and above, more. Most older Singaporeans will receive one and a half times what other Singaporeans will receive.

As with the GST Credits, we will include everyone. Those with Annual Incomes more than $100,000 will receive a Growth Dividend of $100.

We will give an additional dividend to those who have served and are currently serving national service. NSmen, ex-NSmen and NSFs including those below 21, will get an additional $100 of Growth Dividends, to recognise their contributions to our nation.

As before, we will provide the option for Singaporeans to donate their Growth Dividends to charity, so that those who wish to can conveniently contribute to a cause of their choice.

The Growth Dividends will cost the Government $865 million this year.

For government pensioners, the Government has decided to increase the Singapore Allowance further by $20 per month, and raise the gross pension ceiling from $1,150 to $1,170. This will give an additional $3 million a year to pensioners residing in Singapore.

There are some families who may need additional support, in meeting rising costs, beyond the significant sums they would receive in the GST Offset Package and the Growth Dividends that we are providing this year, as well as existing Government assistance schemes. Last year, as part of the GST Offset Package, we provided CCCs, self-help groups and VWOs with extra funds ($10 million over five years) to help needy families. This year, we will give these groups an additional $10 million. This would give them an extra $20 million over the five-year period. They are best placed to decide on which families need additional assistance. Over the last year alone, about 8,000 low-income families have been helped by the CCC ComCare Fund.

Taking together all the measures in this year’s surplus sharing package a retiree household in a two-room flat will receive $2,100 (Growth Dividends and Medisave Top-ups). This is on top of the $1,300 that they will also be receiving this year as part of the GST Offset Package introduced last year.

Take a middle-income family living in a five-room flat, which is also typically larger. Two working parents with two children, one in primary school and one in secondary school, and one grandparent. They will receive a total of $2,500 ($1,150 in Growth Dividends, $900 in PSEA top-ups, $450 Medisave top-up). This is on top of the $1,900 that they will also be receiving this year as part of last year’s GST Offset Package.

Overall, the rebates and dividends are weighted towards middle and lower-income households. Higher-income households will receive more in absolute dollars, because of the rebate on the higher personal income taxes that they are paying. However, lower and middle-income households will get more as a percentage of their incomes from the 2008 surplus sharing exercise. This is even more so if we include what they will receive this year as part of the GST Offset Package that has already been introduced and the WIS.

In total, we will be giving out $1.8 billion worth of benefits to Singaporeans as part of this surplus sharing package. This is our approach. When we have higher than expected economic growth and strong surpluses, we will share the benefits with Singaporeans while setting aside sufficient resources to meet future needs and challenges.

The full speech can be found on Singapore Budget.



12 Responses to “Budget Speech 2008”

  1. ptui said

    What?? $1.8 billion worth of benefits to Singaporeans as part of this surplus sharing package, but $34 billion to some US banks on the brink of sub prime fiasco……come on!

  2. Robert HO said

    1. I can just imagine tomorrow morning’s Straits Times headlines, echoed in all the PAPaganda media. What will it be? “2008 BUDGET MORE GENEROUS THAN SANTA CLAUS”? “A BUDGET THAT IS ALL HEART”? “HUGE HELPING HAND TO ALL, ESPECIALLY POOR”? [POOR politically incorrect, make that LOW INCOME]. “A BUDGET TO PUT SMILES ON ALL”? “THIS MUST BE SOCIALISM!”? “GOVT TO GIVE BACK BILLIONS”? “STRONG GDP ALLOWS GENEROUS BUDGET”? Well, we all know the drill.

    2. Just ruminating about how computer software has made this sort of thing so easy. Using a spreadsheet, a free 1 from will do, and just 1 day, anyone can input the figures, then swop numbers here and there until it all comes out right [even if wrong, who dares to care?]. With time for the usual 2-hour lunch. Even a siesta in the luxurious bedrooms of the Istana Palace, no Monica Lewinsky, though. For this we pay them S$3,7m + bonuses + perks + concurrent pensions?

    3. The obscene surplus is such an embarrassment of riches that the LIEgime has to give some back, as little as politically acceptable, and this is the main reason for any seeming generosity. [Thomson Financial reported a week ago that “The government conservatively projected a 640 million Singapore dollar deficit for the year to March 2008. But by September 2007 it had already recorded a surplus of 6.2 billion dollars.”]

    4. If they can make such a mind-boggling miscalculation, an error of -S$640m to +6.2b and financial year’s not over yet, what other humongous STUPIDITIES are they committing, too? Decades of OVERTAX & UNDERSPEND habits die hard.

    5. All this spending on new hospitals, don’t let it fool you. It’s not for us. Due to the LIEgime’s stupid policies of importing huge hordes of foreigners, now they all need the same facilities and infrastructures we need, so the pressure is on everything, hence more schools, teachers, hospitals, nurses, doctors, pharmacists, etc, more new or revised public transport schemes, etc. Any fool could have seen these coming. When you import a million foreigners, 1/4 of the population, everything has to go up to accommodate them.

    6. It is still OVERTAX & UNDERSPEND. But the pressure of a million foreigners is breaking everything at the seams. Now the troubles are starting to show. This Budget is just beginning to reflect the reality of a million foreigners. This is just the beginning. You have been warned.

  3. QUOTE:
    “Greenspan says U.S. “on the edge” of recession
    By Anna Driver and Eileen O’Grady Reuters
    Published: February 15, 2008

    HOUSTON: Former U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan on Thursday said the U.S. economy is “clearly on the edge” of a recession.

    Greenspan said the economy will continue to erode until there is a stabilization of U.S. housing prices.

    “We have a long way to go” before housing prices hit a bottom, Greenspan told energy executives at the CERA conference.

    High oil prices are dragging on the economy, but the fact that they haven’t done more damage shows its resiliency.

    “It’s a burden now,” Greenspan said. He added that it’s “quite remarkable” that the U.S. economy is “able to do reasonably well” with oil prices near historic highs.

    Crude oil futures hit above $95 a barrel on Thursday and went above $100 in early January.

    Greenspan again — as he had last month — said that the likelihood of the U.S. economy going into recession was “50 percent or better.”

    He said the U.S. economy was growing at “stall speed.”

    “Stagflation is too strong a term for what we are on the edge of,” Greenspan said.

    The subprime mortgage crisis would already have put the United States into recession if U.S. businesses weren’t healthy in part as the result of years of low interest rates, Greenspan said.

    “If businesses weren’t in extraordinarily good shape, I have no doubt we wouldn’t be asking if we’re in a recession, but how long and how deep,” Greenspan said.

    “Obviously, they (businesses) are not pushed for credit,” said Greenspan.

    Banks have cut back lending and will continue tight controls on borrowing until housing prices backed by subprime mortgages stabilize, said Greenspan.

    Greenspan made his comments in response to questions by Daniel Yergin, chairman of CERA.

    Greenspan said he would like to see additional use of electric cars.

    Nuclear power makes the “most sense” to increase U.S. power generation when all trade-offs are weighed, he said. “We have to use nuclear,” Greenspan said.

    He said more discussion is needed before any “cap” is created as part of a U.S. cap-and-trade carbon program.

    A carbon cap would likely lead to lower economic activity and higher unemployment if one were set before emissions-cutting technology is widespread, Greenspan said.

    Greenspan said he doubted that technological advances will solve the problem of growing carbon dioxide emissions.

    “If you don’t have a significant amount to trade, a lot of people won’t be able to trade and won’t have the energy they need,” Greenspan said.

    (Additional reporting by Erwin Seba in Houston; writing by Bernie Woodall; Editing by Gary Hill)”

    Study how Greenspan will resolve the many economic and social problems as compared with our own Finance Minister’s perspective.

    For years we have seen our Finance Minister’s speeches in parliament during presentation of annual budget. It is a partial budget based on Incomes & Expenditure concept without revealing huge capital gains and extraordinary profits made by all corporatized basic services which stayed concealed year after year giving a distorted view of our surplus or deficit.

    Now let us look at the annual incomes and expenditures for 2007 audited account again. Has it contained the Billions chalked up by state land sales, HDB flat sales, JTC land/property sales, URA and LTA sales and all the proceeds from transfer of people’s assets of lands and infrastructures taken over by GLCs upon corporations or privatizations to withhold or cut down government tax spending on basic services to the people?

    The extraordinary capital gains made by SLA, HDB, URA have amounted to some $6 billions as reported sometime in 2007.

    Has this figure been included in the bottom line of the annual budget?

    Singapore government’s traditional annual budget is so far at best a white-wash or window dressing or creative accounting like NKF has done and is not something really creative or strategic enough to drive the economy.

    It is reactionary responding to criticisms and trying to patch up unhappiness a bit here and a bit there with a bit of goodies.

    To solve the perennial rising costs of living and the stagnated median wages for prolonged periods now since the 1997 financial crisis it is time for our new Finance Minister to present his annual budget reflecting the full incomes with information showing cuts in spending on essential government services due to corporatisation so as to make the tax burdens less onerous and more sustainable (since basic services are progressively passed to GLCs charging full market fees) for the longer term.

    The whole Annual Budget should be transparent and not hide any hidden profits or extraordinary gains made by SLA or HDB due to double-charging on lands and infrastructures already paid for by citizens with past tax monies.

    Try to eliminate all the hidden profiteering schemes through GLCs put in place by previous government under LKY which so far GCT nor LHL has failed to solve.

    Government is elected to serve the people and solve their problems of living, working and competing for a job in this world.

    Establish a people-centred annual budget to address root causes of our problems.

    Do not hide profits made by SLA, HDB or URA from lands and infrastructures and assets already owned by them and funded by taxes.

    Do not double-charge on lands and assets in respect of basic services like medical care, transportation, utility, telecommunication, public and welfare institutions.

    Adopt a master economic planning strategy as recommended by Greenspan to save on energy bills and maximise our surpluses to benefit our job creations rather than giving away jobs to UBS or Citibank or Shin Corp.

    existing resources to help save costs of operations and off rising inflation and energy costs.

    Pass back all such savings including returns from surplus investments and plow back such profits in the form of endowment funds to prevent any further over-taxing and back-charging and under-spending thereby stalling our economic competitiveness.

    Since ministers are being paid fullest market salaries (for bill collector jobs) the government should do away with their life pensions which will be a great burden to the people.

    As long as the median income is stagnated at around $2000.00 pm, ministers and civil servants should not rely on artificial arbitrary devices like NWC or their own parliamentary votes to increase their salaries by 7-14% as clearly people are being left behind as against the PAP election manifesto or our national pledge.

  4. tiredman said

    sorry abour that

    Although, much effort had been put into to ease the situation of the inflation, the government have failed to realise that there are also a group of poor’s children who are unable to get into the local university studying in private universities (perhaps to get a larger foreign intake in an expense of the local).

    Their children are forced to study in a private universities which means that their parents have to spend more in their children’s education and paying lots more in their children’s daily expenses (eg food, transport fee).

    Why the government can’t give transport, education subsidies to these children? They are the children of Singapore!! The government failed to recognise that these children are the same group of people who will be serving the NS as compared to the locals in the local universities. Reason normally being given that this is not a local university and this is seriously insufficient to be an answer to this problem.

    This suggests that Singaporean in local university is a Singaporean whereas Singaporean in a private university is not. The same old reason is being given when these students tried to apply for the National Service deferment. Dont you think this sounds stupid?

    I see this as unequal treatment to two different groups of Singaporeans. I demand the reason for this.

  5. Robert HO said

    1. Kudos, Mr Robert Teh Kok Hua for your excellent points. Just to add that it is not that the Govt does not have economists or planners and strategists, it is that what we have is a POLITICAL ECONOMY in that each and every single policy is designed to achieve a POLITICAL PURPOSE firstly, then its ostensible purpose secondly — a distant second.

    2. Whether it is HDB overpricing [by humongous multiples], recklessly importing hordes of foreigners to the present 1 in 4 of the population, buying into subprime-hit foreign banks to increase LKY’s clout internationally, OVERTAX & UNDERSPEND to amass huge hoards of our monies for THEIR use, all these serve political purposes, mainly to ENTRENCH THEMSELVES IN POWER FOREVER, GIVE THEM CLOUT AND “WEIGHT” INTERNATIONALLY SO THEY WILL BE WELCOMED WHEREVER THEY GO, from Downing Street to Great Hall of the People or the Boardrooms of Morgan Stanley or Total, all our monies are used for the sole political purpose of giving our leaders CLOUT and “WEIGHT”. Our monies are not for us.

    3. Hence, not content with OVERTAX & UNDERSPEND, LIE KY recently told us yet again that if we have no money when old, we have only ourselves to blame and cannot expect any sympathy or help from his govt, EVEN THOUGH WE HAVE PAID TAXES ALL OUR LIVES TO FUND EVERY ACTION OF THE GOVT AND ITS MINISTERS’ LUXURIOUS LIFESTYLES. “There is no free lunch” EVEN THOUGH WE HAVE ALL PAID FOR IT MANY, MANY TIMES OVER.

    4. LIE KY LHL PAP have a thoroughly Hobbesian view of themselves, us, the world and the relationships therefrom. Once we have [foolishly, in the 1 and only truly democratic election in 1959] voted LIE KY into power, we have to accept every vice and satanic policy he forces upon us. The speed and ferocity with which he arrested and jailed without trial, shortly after 1959, editors, journalists, political opponents — even opposition MPs, show how bloody his mind and hands are. Almost all were tortured, some jailed 32 years until old age and ill health forced their release. Some died from the treatment. In such a context, it is too hopeful to expect kindness or even reasonableness. These are weaknesses in his Hobbesian worldview.

  6. I’m amazed by the use so many pictures of red and golden “hongbao” and inverted “fu” luck symbol in the Budget 2008 supplement in the printed version of Straits Time today.

    Headlines and items include:
    – $2,300 Hongbao for the Tok family
    – One-off hongbao for all adult S’poreans this year
    – Those over 51 to get Govt top-up of their CPF Medisave
    – What’s in his hongbao … public assistance will get $330, up from $290

    Why all the celebratory “lucky”, “feel good” as if “strike Toto or 4D” song and dance about? What’s this excessive publicity about? What’s the hype?

    I know it’s the 10th day of Chinese New Year today but are Singaporeans getting a fantastic and auspicious deal from Budget 2008? It’s great to read the commentary “Bonanza Budget furthers strategic aims” by Ms Chua Mui Hoong that “the figure is about 62 per cent of the $1.4 billion increased revenue from the hike in goods and services tax (GST) – which means that through the Growth Dividend, the Government is giving back man-in-the-street 60 cents of every extra dollar it collected from the GST hike.”

    Pardon my candour but instead of Hongbao Budget, some may think it’s “Peh Kim Budget” as all the Govt-imposed hikes and the ongoing ever-increasing inflation is “killing” us. (For those who are not familiar with the term, “peh kim” is donation given to bereaved family). Then again, Choi, thai kah lai see, (touch wood!) it’s Chinese New Year!

    Well, they changed the laws to suck much of our money last year (by increasing GST, PUB, public transport fare hikes, ERP, GST-loaded daily necessities price increases, conservancy charges, delay CPF Minimum Sum Payment, etc. and what have you). Now being wise after the event with 20/20 hindsight, they’ve decided to give back some. Not all but “some”. Just “some” to pull wool over our eyes again?

    So is there cause to celebrate being lesser victims now?

    Victims to a system whereby laws are changed for the benefits of those who make the laws? Or for the benefit of the poor who may now have $330 per month instead of $290.

    Remember Parliament:
    [Dr Lily Neo: Sir, I want to check with the Minister again on the strict criteria on the entitlement for PA recipients. May I ask him what is his definition of “subsistence living”? Am I correct to say that, out of $260 per month for PA recipients, $100 goes to rental, power supply and S&C, and leaving them with only $5 a day to live on? Am I correct to say that any basic meal in any hawker centre is already $2.50 to $3.00 per meal? Therefore, is it too much to ask for just three meals a day as an entitlement for the PA recipients?

    Dr Vivian Balakrishnan: How much do you want? Do you want three meals in a hawker centre, food court or restaurant?]

    Hopefully, $330 is enough for 3 decent meals a day in hawker centres?

    Who knows?

    It’s after reading Reuters below, that I found out what the celebration is about. Oh, the huge Hongbao’s and “FU” are meant for the fat cats!

    Reuters – Saturday, February 16

    SINGAPORE, Feb 15 – Singapore government ministers and other political appointees, the world’s best paid, will cost taxpayers another 15 percent in the coming financial year starting April, according to the city-state’s budget on Friday.

    The state will spend S$66.5 million on political appointments, up from S$58.1 million in the current fiscal year to March — which was also 27 percent up on 2006/2007.

    The government announced two rounds of pay hikes for ministers last year, raising Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s annual pay to S$3.76 million — at least five times that of U.S. President George W. Bush

    Now I know!

    And thanks to

    I know better!


    Feed Me To The Fish

  7. saintmoron said

    Hi Roberts Teh, Ho, Leong Sze Hian and all others here; me as an ordinary citizen, would like to say that You(all) and many other intellectuals are contributing much to the Blogoshere and hence to the men in the streets. Many of us laymen, need righteous, sympathetic(to the plights of the minnows) and helpful calibres like all of You. And I would also like to add the Brotherhood Press to the list, though theirs maybe too intellectual for lowly educated folks like me.

    Dare I say that none of us are anti government and establishment, the love for our country and the people have driven and instigated/motivate You into actions in the duty of caring for the people and the country, this is indeed lofty. Our Leaders have used colourful, sweet words and glorious statistics all these years to make the people feel good. Unfortunately, the people hardly (felt)feel consoled but distressed that all those ‘beautiful things'(window dressings?) are never theirs(the people) to share but they (were) are make to labour for them to realise the ideals of our leaders. Even blind man knows(they heard and get to hear) that much of the harvests go to the leaders themselves, just look at the ways they remunerate themselves!

    Laymen have difficulties to relate their problems and difficulties to others, many bear with their situations and invariably crimes and suicides are their solutions and getaways from their difficulties. Paradoxically, we have a group of conscientious intellectuals like You who are willing and kind to champion the minnows, it’s a great blessing. I wish more of such people will come forward for the collective goods of the people and hence OUR COUNTRY! Please accept my respects.

  8. Not surprising the above post dated 16.2.2008 9.36am was removed by the moderator of without any explanation.

    Perhaps the Straits Times chief executive, chairman or editors cannot face up to their superior for allowing such post in its official website as foreigners might read it and come to know that our annual budget actually is based on creative accounting and does not contain full facts like hidden profits and gains made by the government and its many government-linked companies.

  9. Robert Ho & Saintmoron,

    Thanks for encouraging all to together here to tell the truths and ask some serious questions on many issues and policies affecting us all.

    I believe there is a greater interest now among people to know the rationale and truths behind many of our government policies.

    Only through responsible discussions among citizens here each in his own way will we collectively contribute to raising expectations and standards of our many government policies from wider nation-building perspectives.

    It may take time for government to admit its past errors but with our collective inputs based on facts and substance from many here I believe government eventually have to listen and it will not be in its interest to continue to ignore views for too long.

    Votes will go against them if they don’t listen because people are more educated and cannot be easily brainwashed by state controlled media and propaganda.

  10. sarek_home said

    public assistance will get $330, up from $290

    Although the increment is more than 10%, it is likely to be just enough for the needy to catch up with the inflation of then essential items they can’t do without.

  11. Tang said

    Last year, when the GST was raised from 5 to 7 pc, we were
    told that there would still be a budget deficit of $0.7 billion.
    Now that this forecast was clearly wrong and we have instead
    a hugh budget surplus of $6.4 billion, shoudn’t the GST be reverted back to 5 pc? That would at least directly lower the CPI.

  12. Robert Teh Kok Hua said

    In NKF, the whole problem was caused by creative accounting.

    Auditor General has reported many more cases of creative accounting problems resulting in losses of millions.

    Should shananigans or chicanery be permitted by the Auditing professions or should the auditing professionals themselves engage in such practices to help clients cover up potential queries from stakeholders.

    Why can’t the government ministers set as examples themselves and improve the presentation of Annual Budgets to include report and include all includes including extraordinary gains from SLA, HDB, LTA, JTC, URA to as to avoid the same mistakes over and over again as seen happening in 2007 Increase of GST from 5% to 7% based on wrong and inaccurate projection of surpluses and incomes.

    Such a state of government is equal to misrepresentation which has already happened in the high-profile NKF case.

    Let Temasek and GIC be properly run with professionals providing accurate information and not creative accounts which tend to disguise mistakes or misrepresent information.

    The various incidents of malpractices like failure to recover debts owing to state due to computer errors or over-spending or spending without authorization should be put to a stop without any more excuses.

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