GST Vouchers and Medisave top-ups – not enough help to even fewer families; Maruah President questions

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Photo: YouTube screengrab

The GST Voucher (GSTV) Scheme, was introduced in 2012 to help lower and middle-income Singaporeans offset some of their GST expenses.

Age and annual home value are taken into consideration when deciding how much each person receives.

According to The Straits Times, about1.39 million Singaporeans will receive up to S$300 in August, and about 485,000 Singaporeans aged 65 and above in 2018 will receive up to $450, topped-up into their Medisave accounts.

Furthermore, those who do not receive Pioneer Generation benefits will receive Medisave top-ups of up to S$200. 900,000 Housing Development Board (HDB) households will be recipients of an additional U-Save of $20 a year to offset utilities bills. 900,000 HDB households will also receive 1.5 to 3.5 months of S&CC rebates until January next year, depending on their HDB flat type.

However, are these amounts sufficient enough to make a difference in the lives of Singaporeans?

Leong Sze Hian, President of Maruah Singapore asked in his blog post, “Is the GST Voucher adjusted for inflation every year since the GST rate was increased in 2007?”

According to the Budget debate round-up speech in 2011, when the GST rate was raised from 5% to 7% in July 2007, a household in the bottom 20% had to pay additional GST of $370 per year, but received an offset package of $910 per year, in addition to permanent benefits of $1,000 per year.

Now however Mr Leong continues, since the GST vouchers are at a maximum of S$300 per individual, “after adjusting for inflation since 2007, are lower-income families arguably, effectively getting less now under the GST Voucher scheme, compared to the previous GST Offset Package?”

He also drew attention to the drop in the number of Singaporeans receiving GST vouchers, reportedly 2.1 million in the year 2012, to 1.39 million now.

Netizens were skeptical about the GST vouchers, anticipating hikes or more payments to come.


obbana@theindependent.sg