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The Straits Times (5 Jul 2023) : 1.5m Singaporeans to get up to $700 in August to defray living expenses

05 Jul 2023

SINGAPORE – About 1.5 million Singaporeans will receive up to $700 in cash in August to help with their living expenses, under a scheme announced by Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong in his Budget speech in February.

The Ministry of Finance (MOF) said on Tuesday that eligible citizens would receive an additional $300 from the Goods and Services Tax Voucher (GSTV) scheme cash payment in 2023.

Unlike in 2022, when Singaporeans received up to $700 in cash through two payments, including the GSTV – Cash Special Payment, there will be only one payout in 2023.

About 624,000 Singaporeans aged 65 and above will also have up to $450 credited to their Central Provident Fund MediSave accounts as part of the GSTV scheme.

Those born on or before Dec 31, 1969, and not already receiving Pioneer or Merdeka Generation benefits, will also have $100 credited to their MediSave accounts by the end of August.

MOF said the payments are “part of the Government’s continuing support for lower-income to middle-income and senior Singaporeans to help with their GST expenses and living expenses”.

It added that those who were eligible would have received two GSTV – U-Save and GSTV – service and conservancy charges (S&CC) rebates, as well as payouts through the Assurance Package.

These payouts comprise Community Development Council vouchers, top-ups to Edusave or Post-Secondary Education Accounts made earlier this year, as well as amounts that were credited to MediSave accounts and also given to eligible seniors aged 55 or older and eligible Singaporeans aged 21 or older.

“Singaporeans and their households can expect further support in the form of top-ups to the Child Development Account, U-Save and S&CC rebates, and the Assurance Package Cash in the second half of 2023,” MOF said.

Madam A. Sarada, 84, who lives with her daughter in a four-room Housing Board flat and would typically spend about $150 to $200 on groceries each month, is looking forward to the payout.

“The $700 can help to cushion the effects of price increases. This additional amount is more than enough for at least two months of groceries,” she said.

Business analyst Rumman Amin, 26, said the payment will be only slight respite. He sets aside about $1,000 of his salary every month to pay off his student loan, which will take another year to be settled.

Coupled with his monthly expenses and household bills, he finds it difficult to have any savings, and hopes the Government will do more to ease the impact of the GST hike.

The GST rate was increased from 7 per cent to 8 per cent on Jan 1, and will rise to 9 per cent in 2024.

“As a short-term solution, I think the payment helps Singaporeans, but with costs expected to rise further, something more substantial, or perhaps even longer-term, would be better,” Mr Rumman said.