top of page

Budget 2023: The Yays and Nays

Updated: Feb 20

If you’re expecting a full-length summary of the nearly 2 hours-long speech, fortunately, this piece is not it.

Instead, let’s review some of the hits and misses from the Budget 2023.

Hit: More Money coming in

Let’s be honest, this is the first thought that comes to your mind about Budget. I don’t blame you. Singaporeans everywhere look forward to any “goodies” announcement.

Lo and behold, indeed there are more goodies on the way.

The government will increase the GST Voucher Cash package for Singaporeans aged 21 years and above with an annual income of $34,000 and below with one property or none.

This means that eligible Singaporeans will receive $700, instead of the $500 previously announced, if their annual value of property is below $13,000. Those between $13,000 and $21,000 will receive $350, instead of the $250 announced.

Keeping the annual income eligibility the same, in 2024, they will receive $850 and $450 respectively.

Singaporeans aged 21 years and above with an annual income of not more than $100,000 and who own one or no property will receive additional Assurance Package Cash of between $300 and $650 over the remaining years of the Assurance Package in December until 2027.

Similarly, those within the same eligibility criteria will also receive a Cost of Living payment between $200 and $400 in June 2023.

Every Singaporean household will also receive an additional $100 Community Development Council (CDC) voucher in January 2024, on top of the $200 previously announced.

This is on top of U-Save rebates, topping up Child Development Accounts and Post-Secondary Education Accounts, and other assistance.

So, yes. We will be getting more packages from the government to help us tide over the inflationary pressure and GST increase.

But please, spend your money wisely.

Hit: Support for housing

For the uninitiated, housing prices have been on the rise, and some politicians even presented controversial policy changes to lower housing prices in Parliament with a lengthy debate.

The Government did not shy away from the hot-button issue and addressed our concerns.

For the first time, HDB will introduce a new sub-category of First-Timers comprising families with children, and young married couples aged 40 years and below, who are buying their first home.

This sub-category of prioritised First-Timers will receive additional support, including an additional ballot chance for their BTO applications, to support them in securing their BTO flats.

That’s for BTO applicants.

As for resale buyers, the Government will increase the CPF Housing Grant to provide more support for first-time homebuyers.

For eligible First-Timer families, the maximum grant amount will be increased from $50,000 to $80,000 for 2- to 4-room resale flats; and from $40,000 to $50,000 for those buying a 5-room or larger resale flats.

The total amount of grant is dependent on their monthly household income. For instance, those earning $1,500 or less would receive at total CPF Housing Grant of $80,000, on top of other grants that they may receive, for example the proximity grant and Enhanced CPF Housing Grant.

Here’s a win for younger families starting their life together, and hopefully getting more affordable, and quicker public housing.

Hit: Support for family

Again, families are in the foreground of this year’s Budget speech as there is more support for families introduced.

Mr Wong introduced a slew of policy changes and initiatives for families, and here are just some of the main support:

But in short:

  • Increasing Baby Bonus Cash Gift by $3000

  • Increasing Government contribution to the Child Development Account by increasing the First Step Grant,

  • Raising the co-matching cap in CDA to the amount parents deposit,

  • Extend Baby Support Grant of $3,000 to children born from 1 October 2022 to 13 February 2023,

  • Double Government-paid paternity leave from two to four weeks on a voluntary basis,

  • Extend unpaid infant care leave by six days per parent per year, and

  • Changing working mothers’ child relief from a percentage of earned income (from 15% to 25% depending on the number of children) to a fixed dollar ($8,000 to $12,000).

That is a lot of initiatives and changes made for families. The changes reflect the need of parents in supporting their children in Singapore.

The time is right to adjust these measures so that Singaporeans can make more babies, and at the same time not be too burdened by childcare costs.

Miss: Healthcare

For this year’s Budget, healthcare exp

enditure was not really the focus of Lawrence Wong’s speech.

In fact, a CTRL+F of “health” and “healthcare” in his speech only came up with 16 and 5 results respectively (“families” was mentioned 39 times).

That does not mean that it is not important.

He did announce that for seniors, especially lower-income seniors, the Government will support their long-term care and healthcare needs by topping up the ElderCare Fund by $500 million to support means-tested subsidies for seniors who need home-based, centre-based, or institutional care.

In addition, the Government would also top up the MediFund by $1.5 billion to strengthen

the safety net for lower-income individuals and seniors facing financial difficulties with their medical bills, even after Government subsidies, MediShield Life, and MediSave.

Nevertheless, HealthierSG was introduced during the Budget and details were being carved out in Parliament.

That said, much was missing in healthcare support for families and lower-income households. Perhaps the discussion is on the back burner for upcoming Budgets or the Committee of Supply debate once HealthierSG starts to roll out.

Miss: Caregiving

As our society ages, there will be more seniors living together with their children.

As such, (younger) families are being sandwiched between caring for their children, and their aged parents.

This is not a new phenomenon as families are often struggling to straddle between financing their own families, mostly with younger children, and taking care of their elderly.

While this year’s Budget addressed the need to strengthen families, it focused more on starting a family, rather than sustaining families.

Mentions of support for the elderly were discussed in the Budget but there was a vacuum when it comes to caregiving support.

Support for the sandwich generation goes both ways - for the next generation, which has been adequately addressed, and for the previous generation, which was quite muted.

We hope that future Budgets, or the COS, will cover and address these concerns.

Overall verdict: A Pro-Family Budget

Even with the hits and misses of this year’s budget, it still sends a strong signal for what the Government envisions for the future: A Singapore that is pro-family and supports the upbringing of children at every stage of their lives.

But of course, there is more to be done in achieving this reality as families are expanding with intergenerational living becoming more of a norm.

Nonetheless, it is a good step in “moving forward in a new era”.

bottom of page