Under the new initiative, eligible Singaporeans will receive additional cash payouts of up to S$200, while households will have their Community Development Council (CDC) vouchers increased by S$200.
Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong announced these measures as part of the S$1.1 billion (US$800 million) cost-of-living support package.
The primary aim of this package is to provide much-needed assistance to Singaporean households, particularly those in the lower- to middle-income brackets.
These measures build upon several enhancements introduced in the Assurance Package last year and, most recently, during the unveiling of the 2023 Budget in February.
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With the inclusion of these latest measures, eligible Singaporeans can anticipate receiving up to S$800 in cash by December. Additionally, households will collectively receive S$500 in CDC vouchers in 2024.
The government also released a series of supplementary measures, including extra U-Save rebates to cushion households from the recent hikes in carbon tax and water prices. Further subsidies and vouchers have been introduced to alleviate the impact of last week’s public transport fare increases.
In a press release, the Ministry of Finance (MOF) acknowledged that although inflation has tapered from its peak, Singaporean households are still suffering from the consequences of price hikes across various sectors.
The cost-of-living support package adds S$0.8 billion to the Assurance Package, bringing its value to over S$10 billion.
CASH, CDC VOUCHERS
The Finance Ministry elaborated on the support measures, revealing that approximately 2.5 million adult Singaporeans will receive an additional one-time cash sum of up to S$200 in December. This supplement complements the existing components of the Assurance Package, as previously announced.
The ministry said that these measures specifically target lower- and middle-income adult Singaporeans.
For instance, individuals with assessable incomes of S$34,000 or less will receive an extra S$200 on top of the S$600 already earmarked for December.
The cost-of-living special payment is intended for eligible Singaporeans aged 21 and above in the next year. To qualify, individuals must have an annual assessable income not exceeding S$100,000 and must not own more than one property.
Moreover, every Singaporean household is set to benefit from an additional S$200 in CDC vouchers next year on top of the provisions laid out in the 2023 Budget, bringing the total voucher value to S$500.
These supplementary vouchers will be equally divided—S$100 can be utilized at participating heartland merchants and hawkers, while the remaining S$100 can be redeemed at affiliated supermarkets such as NTUC FairPrice, Giant, and Sheng Siong.
Starting from January 3, 2024, households can claim these CDC vouchers at go.gov.sg/cdcv, with a validity period extending until the end of 2024.
S&CC REBATES, U-SAVE REBATES
For the rebates, 950,000 Singaporean households living in Housing and Development Board (HDB) flats will receive an extra one-time 0.5-month rebate on service and conservancy charges (S&CC) in January 2024. This supplemental rebate will coincide with the regular S&CC rebates.
MOF asserted that this adjustment will “fully offset” the S&CC increase during the initial year of incremental adjustments for one- to four-room HDB flats while offering approximately 85% relief for larger HDB flats.
It was previously announced in June that residents in all 15 town councils administered by the People’s Action Party (PAP) would experience an increase in S&CC payments. The initial increment came into effect in July, with a subsequent increase slated for 1 July 2024.
Additionally, 950,000 Singaporean HDB households will benefit from an extra S$20 per quarter in U-Save rebates from January 2024 to December 2025, amounting to a total of S$80 annually for two years.
This measure will help with the impact of rising carbon tax and water prices in 2024 and 2025. These rebates will be disbursed alongside the regular U-Save rebates.
MOF clarified that these additional rebates will help offset the increased utility bills for one- to two-room HDB flats, cover roughly 80% of the higher utility costs for three- to four-room HDB flats and alleviate around 65% of the increased utility expenses for larger flats.
PUBLIC TRANSPORT-RELATED MEASURES
Resident households with a monthly household income per person not exceeding S$1,600 will be eligible to receive public transport vouchers valued at S$50 each.
These vouchers will be distributed starting from the end of December and can be used to top up fare cards or get monthly travel or concession passes.
The Public Transport Council announced last week that bus and train fares would more than double compared to last year’s increases to an additional 10 to 11 cents per journey for adult commuters starting in December.
The trend of steeper fare hikes could potentially persist, as the Public Transport Council has chosen to defer a significant portion of the fare adjustment quantum to future fare review exercises.
On Thursday, MOF disclosed that the government would provide additional subsidies of approximately S$300 million in 2024. These subsidies are intended to cover the deferred fare adjustment quantum of 15.6%, which will be carried forward to future fare review exercises.
“This additional subsidy is designed to mitigate the fare increase and offset the higher costs associated with providing public transport services due to the sustained increase in energy prices in 2022, core inflation, and robust wage growth,” MOF emphasized.
During a press conference, Mr Wong reassured the public that the funding for these supplementary measures would be drawn from the current provisions within this year’s Budget.
However, he acknowledged the possibility of requiring additional funding down the road and indicated that a supplementary Supply Bill may be presented in the 2024 Budget to address any shortfalls.
“I assure all Singaporeans that we will continue to be there for you and support you every step of the way. As long as we continue to be responsible for one another and keep a lookout for each other, we can overcome the challenges ahead and move forward together,” he said.
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