SINGAPORE (Feb 18): In commemoration of Singapore’s bicentennial this year, the Singapore government is introducing two special initiatives to "support the spirit of giving back” in the form of a $200 million Bicentennial Community Fund, as well as a $1.1 billion Bicentennial Bonus.

The Bicentennial Community Fund will provide dollar-for-dollar matching for donations made to Institutions of a Public Character (IPCs) in FY19.

It comes as part of Singapore’s efforts to ensure a good distribution of support for all donations to IPCs which do not currently receive government matching, as well as to increase the positive impact of the IPCs’ work.

On the other hand, the Bicentennial Bonus comprises several components to provide more help to those with specific needs.

Lower-income Singaporeans will have additional help with their daily living expenses, such as a Workfare Bicentennial Bonus where lower-income workers will receive an additional 10% in cash of their Workfare Income Supplement (WIS) payment for work done in 2018, with a minimum payment of $100.

A GST cash voucher of up to $300 which will be issued to some 1.4 million lower-income Singaporeans as well.

Singapore also intends to introduce a 50% Personal Income Tax Rebate, for the Year of Assessment 2019. The cap has been set at $200 such that mainly middle-income earners will benefit from this initiative.

Additional support will be provided to parents with school-going children. A $150 top-up to the Edusave accounts of Singaporean students will be introduced this year, on top of the annual Edusave contributions which they already receive from the government.

Lastly, about 300,000 of older Singaporeans aged 50 to 64, specifically those who have less than $60,000 of retirement savings in their CPF accounts, will receive a CPF top-up of up to $1,000. This will be credited into the Special Account for members aged 50 to 54, and the Retirement Account for members aged 55 to 64.

See: Government to set aside $6.1 billion for Merdeka Generation Fund

“The majority of these recipients will be women. Many of them left the workforce early, and took up important roles as mothers, caregivers, or housewives. As a result, they had fewer years to build up their savings. This top-up is a way to recognise their contributions, and to help them save more,” said Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat as he unveiled these initiatives this afternoon.

“Together, we hope that these measures will provide greater peace of mind for our older workers now and later in their silver years.”

Singapore's FY2019 budget position remains expansionary, with a basic deficit of $7.1 billion.

Ministries' total expendictures are expected to hit $80.3 billion, 1.6% higher than in FY2018.

Funds have also been set aside to meet Singaporeans' long-term needs, including $6.1 billion for the Merdeka Generation Package and $5.1 billion for long-term care support.

On the whole, an overall budget deficit of $3.5 billion, or 0.7% of GDP is expected.