So, after last Sunday’s National Day Rally, I’m sure I’m not the only Singaporean with a few burning questions. Questions like, how often has Kit Chan sung “Home”? How come Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s funeral is at the University Cultural Centre but the National Day Rally is at ITE College Central? How much NEWater does Prime Minister Lee drink off-camera? Did anyone pee in their pants when the legendary Tiger Hong stood up?
What? These aren’t the questions Singaporeans are asking? Okay, fine. I got our highly motivated intern Samuel to trawl the Internet for money-related questions that Singaporeans are asking after this year’s National Day Rally. Here’s what he found.
1. PM Lee announced several benefits at this year’s Rally. How much are these grants, bonuses and other freebies costing the Government?
Typically, we wait until the Budget announcement to hear how much these policy changes cost. However, a lot of this year’s benefits rely on the actions of Singaporeans themselves. Housing Grants, Baby Bonuses, these aren’t given out to everyone, just those who are eligible.
2. How are all the benefits going to be provided for? Higher taxes?
A great question that may never be answered.
3. The Pioneer Generation are in need of money from their CPF Retirement Account and Medisave account. Why have they been left out in this year’s National Day Rally?
Possibly because the Pioneer Generation Package was already announced last year?
4. What happens to my CPF savings now that re-employment age has increased to 67?
Nothing has changed to the CPF policies. The Payout Eligibility Age is still at 65, but you can voluntarily postpone it if you want. More on that to come, so stay tuned with us on Facebook as we dive deeper into the intricacies of the Basic Retirement Sum soon.
5. Is it possible to get a steady, good paying job amidst the high influx of foreigners?
PM Lee says the Government has “slowed down the inflow of foreign workers, tightened up on PR and citizenships applications, made sure that Singaporeans are fairly treated at work”. But he also says that there are “no easy choices” and every option has a cost.
That being said, Singaporeans can stand to benefit from the new regulations imposed for foreign workers, so you probably should stop saying that “FTs are stealing our jobs” because…. that’s so 2011.
6. Re-employment age has been extended to 67. Is it essential with the unemployment rate and strong competition from foreign talents?
Re-employment age is not the same as retirement age. You don’t have to keep working past 62 if you don’t want to.
By the way, Singapore’s unemployment rate among citizens is currently at 2.9% as of last quarter, much lower than most developed countries.
7. Prices of HDB flats doubled over the last 6 years. So a flat costing $200,000 six years ago now costs $400,000. Doubling the maximum grant to $40,000 is still “loose change”. Will the $20,000 increase in housing grant offset the sky high prices of flats?
The current property cooling measures are in response to the high prices of HDB flats. PM Lee has said at the Rally that BTO prices have “stabilised” and over 100,000 flats have been launched. $20,000 more is hardly “loose change” when your flat only costs $300,000.
8. Is it better to get a HDB flat or executive condominium with the raised income ceiling?
HDB BTO flats are still much cheaper and accessible compared to Executive Condominiums. The reason why the income ceiling has been raised to $14,000 for Executive Condominiums is probably because the take-up rate is not high enough.
Also, with the changes made to the purchasing of ECs, not increasing the income ceiling would mean a very select group of people who would be able to get a loan as well as afford the downpayment for ECs.
9. Can someone earning less than $1000/month really afford a flat in land scarce Singapore?
If they try to live within their means, the grants and other financial assistance offered by the Government will go a long way. The example used of someone being able to afford a flat on a $1000/month salary was more a mathematical example of how the grants and assistance can help. But there also has to be a consideration of other lifestyle costs involved.
Question on Families and Babies
10. What exactly can the minimal sum offered by the Baby Bonus scheme even cover? Would lowering the cost of raising a child be more of an incentive for Singaporeans to have children? Is it worth it to give birth to a child with the added Baby Bonus scheme/incentives?
These are great questions. Yes, throwing more money into the Baby Bonus scheme will not make a difference when there are other factors stopping Singaporeans from having children. More policies which help potential parents take that important step would go further than just increasing the Baby Bonus.
Do you have any burning questions from the National Day Rally? Share them with us