February 14

What you can learn from Singapore’s Budget 2023 (with a Valentine Day Special Payment!)


As with all articles, whilst we made deliberate checks to ensure the veracity of the information, we appreciate that some may be factually wrong (and here there are no excuses, beyond that we are a very small team of 5), and appreciate your patience and kindness in pointing them out.

On a rainy Valentine’s Day in Parliament, DPM Wong declared,

“An era of untrammelled globalisation is over.”

And with that, DPM Lawrence Wong introduced measure after measure to combat the rising costs of living, supporting the resilience of Singapore’s society, and charting a new way forward.

Let’s cut to the chase and look at what the Budget 2023 means for you, in case you were wondering if the Budget really means anything beyond it being on Valentine’s Day. (And yes, I did go all the way to the Parliament to see what was a very good speech. Don’t say we bojio.)

First a caveat – I’m no economist

If you’re looking here for economic analyses, look elsewhere.

You won’t get that.

What you will get is

  1. An idea of how the budget personally affects you, in your different stages of life
  2. Providing some hope as you look ahead
  3. Whilst recognising that taking care of yourself, amidst concerns such as inflation, remains your responsibility, with the Government only able to do that much.

That said, you don’t have to scroll further.

If you are… Here’s what you will get When you will get it
Above 21, single, unattached, and unmarried GST Vouchers rose from $250 to $350, and will rise to $450 in 2024.
Once-off Cost of Living Special Payment between $200 to $400
Cost of Living Special Payment to come in Jun 2023
Single and looking to get married Resale flat grants go up from $50k to $80k;
1 more ballot given to those applying for first home
No mention, but likely after 1 April 2023
Families with child born on 1 Oct Increase in Baby Bonus Cash payment From 14 Feb 2023
Founders of small companies Enterprise Innovation Scheme offering up to $20,000 cash reimbursement for companies that pay little or no tax No mention, but likely after 1 April 2023
Credit: CNA
Credit: CNA
Credit: CNA
Credit: CNA

The challenge

DPM Wong laid out the challenges from the start.

In an increasingly fractured world, countries are beginning to move supply chains within their own countries or in nearby countries to allow for greater supply chain resiliency and control.

This means that countries are no longer chasing the lowest cost producer of their goods, but countries may increasingly choose to produce within or nearby. This would undoubtedly raise prices in the short to medium term.

This is one of the causes behind inflation.

And the headline issue of inflation has been raised to the forefront of everyone’s consciousness.

People are wondering why their 30 eggs at the grocery run now cost $7.50 rather than the $5.90 they paid just in July last year.

The third reason DPM Wong pointed out was the issue of big nations such as the US renewing their efforts to establish key industries within their own nations. He observed that the US was offering big incentives to companies to settle or resettle their manufacturing in the US, with countries like Singapore on no position to compete.

After laying out the macroeconomic scene, DPM Wong followed onto share what was being planned for Singapore to continue thriving in this post-pandemic age.

A big push on the social compact

There’s only so much economic policies can do to combat the global uncertainty. And a big push of DPM Wong’s government has been in ‘refreshing the social compact’.

You may be skeptical. What does the social compact have to do with the rising price of your toilet paper at FairPrice.

Hold your horses.

The point of the social compact isn’t necessarily to give you something, but to ask,

What can you give to our society, our Singapore?

Ah… now it makes sense.

But you may think that you may not be able to give much, given that everything already seems like a struggle.

DPM Wong ended with the story of Ms Emily Yap, who is a nurse who started a ground up initiative distributing grocery packs to the elderly in her community.

It’s one of those feel good stories, but you suspect there’s more than just the boring tripe of the kind giving to the needy.

Yes, there is.

It’s this.


Call it whatever’s the latest fancy term in town.

Antifragile. Adaptable. Grit.


But it’s about bouncing back stronger. And adapting to what’s in front of you, so you come through bigger. Better.

For Emily, it was that despite fighting on the frontlines of COVID as a nurse, she still took time to adapt her schedules to help others in need.

She probably came out stronger.

More importantly, society came out stronger because of what she did.

But the question is,

Has Singapore come out stronger from COVID?

Have you come out stronger from COVID?

I think that’s the bigger question that this Budget is asking of you.

Of us.

Not what additional goodies the Government has for you.

But actually, if the Government provided some levers, and you provided the effort, that we could, and would go further than we could, than if we went alone.

A big lever is business

Amongst one of the most innovative policies announced was the Enterprise Innovation Scheme, to encourage R&D amongst newer firms. Many previous policies have been based on how many staff one employs, the average revenue, but as business owners, sometimes, we know that money is tight.

And we can barely pay ourselves CPF, let alone our staff.

That’s why DPM Wong’s announcement to reimburse up to $20,000 of cash to companies that were paying low to no tax, was a big move.

It signals an intent to shoulder the risk

This Valentine’s Day (oops I meant Budget)

This Budget, perhaps don’t just ask what the Government gives you.

But perhaps what you can give. 3 years after COVID, you and I have changed. Priorities may have shifted. What was previously important now no longer seems so. And if you’re reading this, up till this point, know this.

This Budget wasn’t really about you.


It was about us. About Singapore. About trying to figure out, 58 years after our founding, 100 years after Lee Kuan Yew was born, what actually is the Singapore spirit?

What’s the Singapore soul?

The Budget isn’t about the money, really.

Because beyond the One-Off Special Payments that might be a nice little angbao, a faster (and potentially more subsidised) way to get your flat if you’re looking to set up your family, subsidised R&D for companies, these monies will fade.


The Budget is not the classic, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country.”

If you take away nothing, take this.

That backs to the wall, in 1965, Singapore went all in, despite few believing.

And perhaps today the question to think about is,

Even if the Budget only gave you $1 today, are you all out… or all in?

I don’t think there’s an in-between.

P.S: And no, I’m not from PAP.



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