Every Singaporean aged 21 years and above this year will receive a one-off “hongbao” of between S$100 and S$300 from the Government, as the Republic expects a record surplus for the current financial year.
Adult Singaporeans with an annual income of up to S$28,000 will receive S$300, those whose annual earnings are between S$28,001 and S$100,000 will get S$200, while those drawing more than S$100,000 a year will get S$100.
Anyone who owns more than one property is eligible for S$100 regardless of income.
The payments, dubbed the SG Bonus, will be disbursed at the end of the year and will cost the Government S$700 million.
“It reflects the Government’s long-standing commitment to share the fruits of Singapore’s development with Singaporeans,” said Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat, who delivered the 2018 Budget on Monday (Feb 19), which falls on the fourth day of Chinese New Year this year.
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, said Mr Heng.
But he 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.”
The new surplus projection, which represents about 2.1 per cent of gross domestic product, is more than five times the initial estimate of S$1.91 billion.
Besides the SG Bonus, Mr Heng said S$5 billion from the year’s exceptional surplus will be set aside in the Rail Infrastructure Fund, to help defray costs for new rail lines. Another S$2 billion will be used for subsiding ElderShield premiums and other forms of support that may be necessary when the review of the severe disability insurance scheme is complete.
This is not the first time the Government has given cash payouts. In previous years, payouts of up to S$800 were given in the form of growth dividends.
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.