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Parliamentary Replies

Tracking Wealth Inequality in Singapore

07 Nov 2023
Parliamentary Question by Mr Chua Kheng Wee Louis:

To ask the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance (a) whether the Government tracks wealth inequality in Singapore; (b) if so, what indicators are used to track wealth inequality; and (c) whether there is data on these indicators over the last ten years.

Parliamentary Reply by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Mr Lawrence Wong:

Wealth is difficult to track comprehensively as it takes many different forms, including assets that are not publicly traded and thus, difficult to value. In addition, financial wealth is highly mobile across borders, and bank deposit data is protected by the Banking Secrecy Act. For these reasons, the Government is not able to measure and track wealth inequality accurately.

Nevertheless, we have been proactively putting measures in place to address wealth inequality. This includes wealth taxes in the form of stamp duties, property tax, and the Additional Registration Fee or ARF for motor vehicles. Over the years, we have made these taxes more progressive. For example, we introduced higher marginal Buyer’s Stamp Duty rates for higher-value properties in Budget 2023, and raised property tax rates for all non-owner-occupied residential properties and higher-value owner-occupied residential properties in Budget 2022. We also raised the ARF for higher-end cars in Budget 2022 and 2023.

We invest in and support Singaporeans in the essential areas of education, jobs, housing, and retirement, to help them secure good jobs and accumulate wealth over their lifetime. For instance, our CPF system enables Singaporeans to grow their savings, with higher interest rates for lower balances and additional government support to the lower-income, through schemes like Workfare and the Matched Retirement Savings Scheme. Housing subsidies also provide the less well-off with more support to own a home. Our investments and support in these areas position all Singaporeans to be part of the country’s growth, regardless of their backgrounds, with more support for those with less.