Singapore on front foot over demographic challenges

The big message from the Singapore government’s latest budget is it is acutely aware of its demographic challenges - and willing to tackle them head on. 

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There is no doubt Singapore’s population will continue to age and the working-age population is set to peak within the next few years. Currently every five-working age adults in the country support a single retiree over the age of 65. In 20 years’ time that number will drop to only two working-age people.  

"[Singapore] latest budget shows the government is setting its sights on the longer-term demographic challenge the country is facing.” 

The latest budget shows the government is setting its sights on the longer-term demographic challenge Singapore is facing – and tax increases are part of the solution. You can hear more-detailed thoughts on the budget – and tax changes - in the podcast below. 

As part of the changes, Singapore has unveiled a two-percentage-point increase in its goods-and-services-tax rate to nine per cent, effective sometime between 2021 and 2025.  This will allow the economy and population plenty of time to adjust.

Overall the Singaporean economy is continuing to perform well and ANZ expects the country to record growth of about 4 per cent this year. This should continue to provide the country’s coffers with increased revenue.

The budget forecasts a fall to an overall deficit for financial year 2018, but traditionally the Singaporean government has outperformed its initial estimates. Looking back at the last ten budgets the government has tended to announce much-larger than expected surpluses.

All in all the Singaporean economy and the government is well-positioned to face its looming demographics challenge.

Khoon Goh is Head of Asia Research at ANZ

The views and opinions expressed in this communication are those of the author and may not necessarily state or reflect those of ANZ.

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