RICE Digest: The Important Bits of Budget 2023, Ranked
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RICE Digest is our weekly news roundup where we provide level-headed commentary and (hopefully) some fodder for your dinner table conversations.

When our annual Budget statement was made on Valentine’s Day this year, hearts weren’t broken as they were… well, deflated. The culprit? Inflation, which looks set to continue for the first half of 2023, along with another GST hike in 2024.

It’s all overwhelming information. Even our DPM Lawrence Wong admitted the same, when last Friday he announced the Support for You Calculator, which will help determine what benefits the coming year will endow upon you based on your personal information.

Which is also why, in true RICE Digest spirit, we picked out the most important bits for you to understand. And we’ve ranked them, because, why not? We’re all about to spend lesser this year. It’s better we find our fun where it’s free.

#3: Housing Prices Aren’t Cooling Down Anytime Soon

Our writer summed it up best in a feature worth your time, if you haven’t read it yet—single Singaporeans will still have a hard time getting a place of their own. Shocker. We know.

But in an age of ballooning rental prices and competitive BTO ballots, getting a flat here might be a big ask even for families. Which is why DPM Wong announced new measures in his Budget 2023 speech to aid new families aiming for their own neat little units.

The BTO balloting process will now include an additional chance for families with children and young married couples, aged 40 years old and below. As long as they’re first-time buyers.

As for the CPF Housing Grant, it’s now looking kinder towards resale flats that are 4-room or smaller—it’s been increased from $50,000 to $80,000 for first-time families (that is, families that have never had any housing subsidies before) and $40,000 (previously $25,000) for singles.

Other grants in the initiative (like the Proximity Housing Grant) will allow up to a maximum of $190,000 in grants for families and $95,000 for singles. It’s a lot of money, sure, but houses cost a heck load more nowadays.

You can take a look at the full breakdown by HDB here.

#2: Working Mums Get Relief, Literally and Figuratively

Speaking of new families, there’s definitely some trepidation for mothers who want to continue building their careers, along with a nursery for a newborn. One of the biggest reveals during DPM Wong’s Budget statement: Changes to the Working Mother Child Relief.

Currently, working mums are able to claim tax relief for family duties based on a percentage of their income—a percentage that increases with more children. However, come 2024, it will be replaced by a fixed amount of $8,000 for the first child (born or adopted on, or after, Jan 1, 2024), $10,000 for the second child, and $12,000 for the third and subsequent child.

No doubt, doing away with the percentage scheme means that lower-income mothers will benefit more from the scheme. And helping the lower-income segment of the population is, arguably, what government schemes are meant to do.

Will this initiative—along with other benefits for new parents—be enough to help the working mums of Singapore? That’s another whole thing to unpack, which we did with The Financial Coconut.

#1: Assurance Packages to Assure You Not to Pack It In

Back in 2020, we had COVID. Remember that? The Assurance Package swooped in to help with costs of living that seemed frightening in the wake of the pandemic’s first big boom, where our physical and social mobility was halted. Businesses either shuttered or scrimped for money as they found themselves unable to open for months.

We’re now in 2023, maskless on trains and buses, and yet more economic challenges lie ahead. At least, that’s what DPM Wong told us during his Budget 2023 speech before unveiling an enhanced version of the Assurance Package.

The good news is that more money will be spent this year, so more money is on the way to help us with that.

The package has been injected with a further $3 billion, with the package standing at a breathtaking $9.6 billion to be dispersed. There’s also the GST voucher to be handed out as well.

Depending on your assessable income and the number of properties you own (if you are between the ages of 21 to 30, don’t worry about that), you can receive anywhere from S$700 to S$2,250—that is, the total amount from 2022 to 2026.

This year, the Assurance Package will arrive as scheduled in December—individuals who earn below the median income (<$34,000) will receive $600, a $200 increase from the amount announced prior to the Budget 2023 statement.

As for the GST voucher, which is assessed based on the annual value of your property, your household will receive either $700 or $350.

There’s also the special Cost-of-Living payment, which will be handed out to adults based on their assessable income.

If you earn anywhere between $34,000 to $100,000 a year, you’ll get $200, and it increases if your yearly income is lesser, all the way to $400. Here’s the full breakdown, and another breakdown if you’re someone who spends most of their time on TikTok.

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