Budget 2013 in Brief

From here:

Budget 2013 in brief
Here are the key points in brief, delivered earlier in Parliament by Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam. -AsiaOne

Mon, Feb 25, 2013

SINGAPORE - Quality growth and an inclusive society has been outlined as key themes in the Budget 2013. Here are the key points in brief, delivered earlier in Parliament on Monday by Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, released in a statement by the Ministry of Finance:
We are transforming our economy so that we can have quality growth - growth that will provide all Singaporeans a better quality of life.
And we are taking further steps towards a more inclusive society - starting with our children, helping lower-income workers, and providing better lives for our retirees.
Restructuring for Quality Growth
The Quality Growth Programme aims to help businesses upgrade, create better jobs, and raise wages. We will:
  •  Tighten Foreign Worker Policies
  •  Provide a 3-year Transition Support Package
  • Strengthen Productivity Incentives
  •  Develop Capabilities for New Growth Industries
Tighten Foreign Worker Policies
To continue moderating the growth of the foreign workforce, we have to make further policy adjustments in different sectors to reflect the circumstances of each sector:
  • Raise foreign worker levies for all sectors
  • Further selective Dependency Ratio Ceiling cuts
  • Tighten eligibility requirements for S Pass and Employment Pass
3-Year Transition Support Package
The 3-Year Transition Support Package provides $5.3 billion worth of support to businesses. This will help them restructure and share productivity gains with their employees in the form of higher wages.
Wage Credit Scheme
Under the Wage Credit Scheme (WCS), Government will co-fund 40% of wage increases for Singaporean employees over the next 3 years. This will help businesses raise the wages of their employees.
It will apply to wage increases for Singaporean employees earning up to a gross monthly wage of $4,000. The WCS will cost $3.6 billion over 3 years.
PIC Bonus
The Productivity and Innovation Credit (PIC) Bonus encourages more companies to take advantage of the PIC scheme to invest in productivity. Businesses that spend a minimum of $5,000 in PIC activities in a year will receive a dollar-for-dollar matching cash bonus.
The bonus will be up to $15,000 over 3 Years of Assessment (YA2013 to YA2015). It will be paid over and above the existing PIC benefits, and is expected to cost $450 million over 3 years.
Corporate Tax Rebate
A Corporate Income Tax (CIT) Rebate of 30% of tax payable capped at $30,000 per Year of Assessment will be given to help companies cope with cost pressures. The rebate will be for 3 years (YA2013 to YA2015).
Strengthen Productivity Incentives
We will make it easier for companies to tap on schemes, help them upgrade and support industry-wide collaborations through the following:
Make it easier and faster for businesses to make PIC claims
  • Introduce a Land Productivity Grant for companies that intensify land use in Singapore
  • Link SMEs with research and technology partners
  •  Broaden and enhance the Partnerships for Capability Transformation (PACT) scheme
  • Develop solutions to industry-specific productivity challenges through the Collaborative Industry Projects
  • Promote prefabrication in construction via the Integrated Construction and Precast Hubs
Capabilities for New Growth Industries
We will develop capabilities that enable us to seize opportunities in Asia's rapidly growing economies. We will support:
  • A Future of Manufacturing plan ($500 million over the next 5 years)
  • The emerging satellite industry ($90 million for the Satellite Industry Development fund)
Cost Savings for Commercial Vehicles
A 1-year 30% road tax rebate for goods vehicles, buses and taxis will be granted. The rebate will take effect on 1 July 2013 and save businesses $46 million.
  • Currently, when commercial vehicles reach the end of their 10-year COE, the owners can only renew for 5 years with no further extension, or pay more for a 10-year renewal. We will allow owners who choose to renew their COEs for 5 years in the first instance to extend their COEs further for another 5 years. This will ease their cashflow and provide more flexibility.
Building A More Inclusive Society
To ensure all Singaporeans share in the fruits of progress, we will:
Promote social mobility
  • Sustain a fair and progressive system of taxes and benefits
  • Strengthen social safety nets
  • Provide direct assistance for cost of living
Promote Social Mobility
We will take further initiatives to strengthen opportunities for lower- and middle-income pupils in our education system.
We will more than double our spending on the Pre-school sector over the next 5 years to more than $3 billion. This will allow Government to:
Building A More Inclusive Society
Expand capacity so that more pre-schools centres are closer to homes and workplaces
  • Bring more operators onto the Anchor Operator scheme, providing 16,000 more places by 2017
  • Build up teacher quality with salary grants, scholarships and training grants
  • MOE to set up a few kindergartens to develop best practices
  • Establish an Early Childhood Development Agency to drive improvements across the entire sector
At the school level, we will also provide more support for disadvantaged students. This will help them catch up and better build a foundation to do well later in life. We will:
  • Extend learning support programme beyond the early primary school years
  • Significantly expand the number of school-based student care centres
Develop rich online materials to provide additional support for students
  • Expand Opportunity Fund by $72 million - 40% more for schools and extend it to Polytechnics
  • Top up Edusave Endowment Fund by $300 million
  • Expand capacity so that more pre-schools centres are closer to homes and workplaces
  • Bring more operators onto the Anchor Operator scheme, providing 16,000 more places by 2017
  • ? Build up teacher quality with salary grants, scholarships and training grants
  • MOE to set up a few kindergartens to develop best practices
  • Establish an Early Childhood Development Agency to drive improvements across the entire sector
A Fair & Progressive System of Taxes & Benefits
Everyone contributes something to Singapore, but the bulk of taxes are paid by the high-income group and the bulk of benefits are received by the lower-income group.
In this Budget, we will add to the progressivity of the system, including enhancing Workfare significantly to help older workers. We are also reinforcing our social safety nets.
Strengthen Workfare
Expand Workfare Income Supplement (WIS) coverage
  • Monthly income ceiling will rise to $1,900 a month, which will benefit about 480,000 Singaporeans, or 30% of our citizen workforce
Increase WIS payouts
  • Maximum WIS payouts will rise by 25%-50%, or up to a maximum of $700 for workers aged 45 and above
  • Proportion of cash to CPF will increase to provide more help to workers with immediate expenses
  • Higher payments to CPF Medisave and Special Accounts to help boost healthcare and retirement savings of our older low-wage workers
To help low-wage workers save more for their retirement and medical needs, we will also restore employer and employee CPF contribution rates for workers who are earning less than $1,500 a month.
A 60-year old worker earning $1,000 a month will:
  • Receive a total of $3,500, or 3.5 months of additional income, in WIS per year
  • Of this, $1,400 will be paid in cash, which is more than $100 a month
More Progressive Taxes
For Owner-Occupied Residential Properties
We will enhance progressivity of the tax structure through:
  • Lower property tax rates for 950,000 or 99% of homes
  • Higher property tax rates for the top 1% of homes. The increase in property tax will be small except for those at the very top-end.
For Non-Owner-Occupied Residential Properties
There will be:
  • No change in property tax rate for 112,000 or 67% of properties
  • Higher property tax rate for the top 33%. The increase in property tax will only be significant for high-end investment properties.
The new tax structure for residential properties will be phased in over 2 years from 1 January 2014.
For Passenger Cars
The Additional Registration Fee (ARF) is currently 100% of a car's Open Market Value (OMV). This will be replaced by a tiered structure, where more expensive cars pay higher rates.
An economy car with an OMV of up to $20,000 will see no change in ARF rate
  • A car with an OMV of up to $50,000 will pay up to $12,000 or 24% more ARF
  • A luxury car with an OMV of $75,000, for example, will pay $32,000 or 43% more ARF Budget
Stronger Social Safety Nets
Review of Healthcare Financing
We will keep healthcare affordable, especially for older Singaporeans.
We will review how the out-of-pocket share of medical costs can be reduced, even for the middle-income. We also want to broaden insurance coverage and increase the role of Medisave.
Top up to Medifund and Eldercare fund
  • $1 billion top-up to Medifund to provide extra assistance with healthcare bills, including to middle-income families
  • $250 million top-up to Eldercare Fund to strengthen support for patients in nursing homes and other long-term care services
Senior's Mobility and Enabling Fund
  • Top up to $50 million
  • Help seniors purchase a wide range of assistive devices like hearing aids and motorised wheelchairs
More Help Under the Public Assistance (PA) Scheme
  • A couple will now receive $90 more per month, or $790 in total
  • Supplements the free services that they already receive, such as medical treatment in polyclinics and restructured hospitals, and other social services
Pensioners to Get More
  • Raise Singapore Allowance to $280 per month
  • Increase monthly pension ceiling to $1,210
  • These changes will benefit 10,000 Government pensioners
Improving Social Service Delivery
  • Set up 20 new Social Service Offices in HDB towns to coordinate support to needy families
  • Integrate eldercare services under one agency to better serve our seniors
  • Dedicated agency to strengthen focus on persons with disabilities
Direct Assistance for Cost of Living
The Government will provide $1.7 billion to help households cope with cost of living.
Extra GST Voucher
Total payout of Cash, Medisave and U-Save benefits will be doubled this year
Rebates on Service & Conservancy Charges (S&CC)
All HDB households will receive rebates of 1 to 3 months based on flat type
$200 CPF Medisave Top-Up
For all Singaporeans aged 45 and above
Personal Income Tax Rebate
  • For Year of Assessment 2013
  • 30% rebate, capped at $1,500 for resident taxpayers below 60 years old
  • 50%, capped at $1,500 for those aged 60 and above
Lower Concessionary Foreign Domestic Worker Levy
  • For families with young children, elderly dependents and persons with disabilities
  • Levy reduced from $170 per month to $120 per month
  • A family will save $600 a year
  • From 1 March 2013
Many Households will Benefit
A retiree couple living in 3-room HDB will get $3,000 in benefits, of which $1,400 in Medisave while a middle-income family living in 4-room HDB will get $1,500 in benefits.
This includes the one-off GST Voucher Special Payment, S&CC rebates, CPF Medisave Account Top-Up, Personal Income Tax Rebate (for the middle-income family), tax savings, and the permanent GST Voucher.

Squid Ink Pasta

Squid Ink Pasta, with lobster meat and scallops...
Use a lobster, boil to make bisque, take some of that, add Alfredo cream + additional cream to thicken, and some truffle salt, parsley, fried garlic, and squid ink linguine and viola...

Making Seared Scallops

 First make cuts on the scallops so the heat can penetrate.
Using a Happy-call, and a little olive oil, heat up the pan, then put scallops inside, flip in two minutes, and again in one min and one more flip.
Add a little wasabi on top for a kick..


I have no financial interest or other interests in any of the items / events I write about.

Resident Evil Retribution - movie review

Resident Evil Retribution - movie review

All I can say is, oh dear...

Whilst I can be confident the subsequent BR disc will likely be demo quality, this is little more than an attempt to cash in on the franchise and give the tired series one last spin.. or perhaps the director / producer will keep milking this already dried up cash cow..

How do you revive a flagging movie franchise? A reboot is too complex for Paul Anderson, so he brings back a bunch of actors who starred in one of the previous 5 shows, and place them in a 'first player role' perspective kind of a movie in which some are good guys and others turned bad by the Hive. Then make them blast their way out of an old Russian submarine facility.

Plot holes? Well seriously where is the plot?

In any case, action thirsty fans lusting to see good ol' Milla J in a skin tight leather S&M outfit will not be disappointed. Add a few more hot chicks and dudes and arm them with never ending ammo, and watch the shakes, rattles and booms as they battle their way out of the underground base, whilst working for the same Wesker. Throw in an Asian perspective with Li Bing Bing who is probably there because Paul Anderson realised the size of the China market and needs to place one of them in a movie to sell tickets. Make sure there is a slit in her outfit which stretches for miles right up to her armpits and make it red in color for hotness and for socialism I guess?

The 3D another cash milking excercise, so your viewing pleasure will vary... of course hot ladies in 3D might be reason enough to watch this stuff...

So 1/5 for plot
3.5 / 5 for chick factor
4/5 for action

Snooze job unless you are a really big fan of the franchise and can't get enough of Milla J.

On a more interesting note... I would like to see Ms Selena aka Kate Beckinsale slug it out with Milla J whilst both wear those tight leather outfits which have made them famous... and throw in Jessica Biel or Alba for good measure, and call it the Resident Evil Vs Vampires - Total Recall or whatever...

The Fierce Wife Movie Review

I wasted two hours of my life on this... somehow the Taiwanese love this, which is a rather unrealistic look at how one woman (who isn't that hot by the way and promotes anorexia if you ask me), loses and then finds love. It's the movie version or finale to a long serial, and squares off the suitors in the final countdown.

She gets wined and dined by many guys, with nary a consideration as to whether that's right, and strings them along, although she does try her best to look angst filled and emotional. I guess the ladies dig this kind of thing...

Please pass on this one

Fairy Tale Killer - movie review

Fairy Tale Killer

Sean Lau stars in this by the books murder crime thriller, and usually he is a top performer, but IMO, he doesn't really extend himself in this, and barely rises out of a coma for this movie in which he plays a less than charismatic cop trying to solve a series of murders based on a bunch of fairy tales.

The main kicker for me was the fact that it highlighted autism, and gave it some publicity.

Otherwise, strictly a rental for me.

iMac unable to go past startup screen - what can you do

I have a 2010 21" iMac on OS 10.5

I had a recent scare, when my iMac could not get past the startup screen, and was stuck with the turning wheel, and I could not get onto the log in page.

Initially, the iMac was also stuck when I tried to log into "Safe Mode", and pressing the option key (to choose which startup disk to use) also did nothing. I tried using the installation DVD, which also did nothing. I could initially hear the whirring of the hard disk, so I assume it wasn't a HD failure.

I then pulled out the power cable for a few minutes, and then tried the option key again. This time, I could get to the choosing HD screen, and I have previously installed Tech Tools Pro, and used the emergency drive to at least boot. I then used Disk Utility to check the HD and it was fine, so it seemed like the start up process was corrupted.

If you insert the DVD and pressed C, nothing happened, but I got to the emergency drive, then inserted the installation DVD, then I could choose that, and using that I then could access the Time Machine on a separate HD, and restore it to a previous date / time. That took almost 1 hour to copy over the restoration. I then booted first into "Safe Mode" and copied over all the recent files I had changed.

Then with fingers crossed, restarted and viola, happiness!

Hope this helps anyone with a similar problem. I think the startup directory or file got corrupted.

Not just another Sydney trip - food and more

So who has not been to Oz and in particular Sydney? Blue mountains? Harbor bridge? Koalas? I think most of us have seen them all .. How a...