Singapore Budget 2016: S$4.5 billion for industry transformation scheme

Heng offered relaxation in the foreign worker levy for struggling marine and process sectors.

Singapore Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat sought to address cyclical weaknesses in the economy and bring about a transformation in the industry and economy in the general budget presented on Thursday.

The minister announced a bevy of packages for industry titled the Industry Transformation Programme, and earmarked an S$4.5 billion for it.

Heng outland four focus areas in his budget -- economy, people, home and security.

He said the government will invest in building stronger enterprises and nurture innovative industries, make more investments in education and health, ensure better liveability and connectivity and boost the country's intelligence, operational capabilities, technology and systems.

Major budget allocations

Spending in the education sector has doubled over the last ten years, hitting S$12.8 billion in the current budget.

As much as S$11 billion has been allocated for the healthcare sector. More than S$10.1 billion allocated for the transport sector.

Heng acknowledged economic growth rate will be subdued as the workforce matures but added that Singaporeans must not be pessimistic about the scenario. He insisted there will be pockets of strong growth.

"Singaporeans work together in new ways to transform our economy and strengthen our society ...Everyone has a role, and together, we are weaving a rich tapestry – each thread a different colour and texture," Heng added.

Heng's 2016 budget projects a surplus of $3.4 billion.

He said small businesses will be given a higher corporate income tax rebate and an extension of the special employment credit scheme.

Heng offered relaxation in the foreign worker levy for struggling marine and process sectors.

The total amount of personal income tax relief an individual can claim will be capped at $80,000.

Announcing a raft of social welfare measures, the minister said parents of Singaporean babies born from Thursday March 24 onwards will get $3,000 up front in their child's Child Development Account.