Singapore

Don't expect a "hongbao" budget

Despite the gloomy economic outlook, it is unlikely Singaporeans will get a big payout in this year's budget.

Why? Because there isn't much money to give.

No, we're not broke. Our official foreign reserves is still a very respectable US$244 billion.

But this is our present Government's first term, which means there isn't much excess money to be distributed.

All surpluses that were generated during the previous Government's term will be locked up in the country's past reserves, and the new Government will begin things on a clean slate.

This is why "hongbao" budgets usually appear near the end of the term of Government, when the Government has enough surpluses to share them with the population.

Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat himself said on March 4 that the Government was unlikely to have much, and that even if it did, it would prefer to keep it for a much heavier thunderstorm.

SOURCE: THE STRAITS TIMES
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