GST Offset Package

Last November, the Prime Minister highlighted the possible increase in Goods and Services Tax (GST) from 5% to 7% which was confirmed the day after valentines Day this year during the announcement of the Budget. The increase is slated to come into effect in July 2007. As such, the next time you buy a flat screen TV for $2999 (before GST), you are actually paying $3208.93 – a full $200 more! It’s going to hurt.

To appease the fury of the masses, the once socialist democratic government quickly step up to announce a S$4 billion package to offset the GST increase and to quell the raging discontent of the working class most likely to be affected sharply by this price hike.

Alright so maybe I’m being a tad melodramatic but seriously have you signed up for your “free money” GST Offset Package yet?

As of 1 hour ago, I have happily registered to receive the $200 which I was eligible to receive within my income and home value category. Senior citizens like my parents are eligible for an additional Senior Citizen bonus of up to $250 more annually for the next four years. The offset package is paid out over 4 years but chances of people qualifying for the highest value category is very low and these are the people of the greatest need but sadly of the least means to access these monies. Of course, help is available in community centres and what not. Unfortunately, both my parents have yet to receive their qualifying letter but they claim that everybody will receive theirs by tomorrow. In addition, all the men get $100 more for their dedication to the country so that’s really nice of them. In addition, senior citizens without medisave, get accounts opened for them free by the government so that’s one of the best things I appreciate out of this whole scheme since my dad doesn’t have one.

The paying structure is as such:

No, I am not going to question if the qualifying criteria is truly reflective of individual needs and what not because like most people, I’m more than happy as it is to get my yearly form of payout handout help from my government which do not even believe in being a welfare state. As such, any amount of help is usually seen as “free” money where most people take to buy lottery or donate to charity. For poor students like me, free money is enough to make me overlook the fact that buying things is going to be a more painful process from now on.

“Free money” is exactly what it feels like and every year we get some form of “free money”. From last year’s progress package to previous year’s Economic Restructuring Shares or the New Singapore Shares, free money is almost like the sweet sticky cakes you give to the kitchen god before sending him off to the celestial courts before Chinese New Year. It’s been said to sweeten the path before general elections or just to take our minds off the increase in cost of living in general. I’ll just like to think that once in a while, our increasingly capitalistic country embraces its original support for state provision of public welfare. Whether out of sincere concern of its population or to distract the kitty with a new furry toy, it hardly matters.

Either way, if you have already received your letter from the CPF Board, go register at to receive your “free money” today! But before you start planning your next purchases, the money will only be credited on 1 July 2007 when the GST hike occurs. Bummer! *grin* Meanwhile, better stock up and make your expensive purchases before 1 July!

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