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Budget Speech


C1. Mr Speaker, Sir, a strong economy is not an end in itself;

a. It is a means to build a better home and provide a better quality of life for all our people.

b. We will therefore continue to improve our living environment and make Singapore a smart, green and liveable city.

C2. Our founding Prime Minister Mr Lee Kuan Yew once said, “a blighted urban jungle of concrete destroys the human spirit”.

C3. Indeed, our urban planners recognised early on that with limited land, we had to build our city with foresight, so we could provide a high quality living environment even in a dense urban landscape.

a. We designed our HDB estates with common spaces, parks and playgrounds, so that everyone has easy access to amenities and public spaces.

b. We planted thousands of trees and toiled to transform Singapore into a Garden City and now a City in a Garden. We may be highly urbanised, but we are not a concrete jungle. More than 40% of our island remains covered in greenery.

c. We also enacted laws against pollution and cleaned up the Singapore River.

d. Along the way, we became innovators in water treatment and waste management.

C4. Today, Singaporeans enjoy the comforts of a modern city, along with clean air, clean water and verdant spaces.

a. Our reputation as a clean and green city is a source of pride for Singaporeans, and attracts tourists and investment to our shores.

b. Even otters have returned to our waterways!

C5. We must continue to improve our city and our environment, and make Singapore an even better home to live, work and play in. History has shown that the most enduring cities are those that are adaptable, flexible and innovative.

Building a Smart Nation

C6. I spoke earlier about the emergence of new technologies as a major shift.

C7. Our Smart Nation movement aims to make the best use of these new technologies to improve our city, uplift our quality of life, enhance our economic competitiveness, and promote social inclusion.

a. This transformation will require a national effort by the Government, together with the private and people sectors.

C8. The Government is embarking on several strategic national projects to lay the foundation for Smart Nation.

a. We are building a Smart Nation Sensor Platform to deploy sensors and “Internet of Things” devices to enhance municipal service delivery.

b. We are developing a National Digital Identity system to enable citizens to authenticate their identities securely and easily when making online transactions.

c. We are also increasing the adoption of e-payments island-wide, to allow everyone to make simple, swift and seamless payments.

d. At the same time, we are opening up digital platforms for the private sector to build innovative services, and will share more data with the public to facilitate co-creation. (Refer to Annex B.)

C9. The Minister-in-charge of the Smart Nation initiative will elaborate more at the COS.

Investing in Sustainability Research

C10. Besides building a Smart Nation, we are also collaborating with academics and corporates in research and innovation, to take Singapore’s sustainable development story to the next level. One of the strategic domains in our Research, Innovation and Enterprise (RIE) 2020 plan is Urban Solutions and Sustainability.

a. Last year, we launched the Cities of Tomorrow R&D programme, to drive innovation in urban development, such as ways to improve the sustainability, maintainability and reliability of buildings, raise construction productivity, and create new spaces that we can live in.

b. We also started the Closing the Waste Loop project, to use technology to minimise the environmental impact of the waste we generate.

c. This year, we will embark on Energy Grid 2.0, to develop next-generation grid architectures that can respond quickly and reliably to changes in energy demand and supply.

d. For these three programmes, we will set aside $250 million. (Refer to Annex B.)

Reducing Emissions

C11. To improve our living environment, we must also address one of the most pressing challenges the world faces – climate change.

a. Climate change is more than just record-breaking temperatures, dry weather or more intense rain.

b. As a low-lying island, Singapore is particularly vulnerable to rising sea levels.

i. That is why the Government has invested significantly to improve our infrastructure, including protecting our coasts and critical assets, building a weather-resilient water supply, and redesigning our flood management system.

C12. We must play our part to address the underlying cause of climate change – to make Singapore a more liveable and sustainable city, and as a responsible member of the international community.

C13. Over the years, we have made various efforts to manage our greenhouse gas emissions.

a. The Energy Conservation Act was enhanced last year to improve the energy efficiency of our industries.

b. We are investing in public transport to make Singapore car-lite, and green-certified buildings have become a hallmark of our urban landscape.

c. Our early measures to be a green city have shown results. Singapore produces less carbon emissions per dollar of GDP than most countries. We intend to further reduce our emissions intensity, to make a bigger effort to combat climate change.

C14. To encourage companies to further reduce emissions, I announced last year that we intend to implement a carbon tax from 2019.

a. I will proceed with a carbon tax on all facilities producing 25,000 tonnes or more of greenhouse gas emissions in a year.

i. It will be levied on the total emissions of each of these facilities.

ii. The first payment will be in 2020, based on emissions in 2019.

b. The carbon tax will be $5 per tonne of greenhouse gas emissions in the first instance, from 2019 to 2023.

c. We will review the carbon tax rate by 2023. We intend to increase it to a rate of between $10 and $15 per tonne of emissions by 2030. In doing so, we will take into account international climate change developments, the progress of our emissions mitigation efforts and our economic competitiveness. (Refer to Annex B.)

C15. The carbon tax will apply uniformly to all sectors, without exemption. This is the economically efficient way – to maintain a transparent, fair and consistent carbon price across the economy to incentivise emissions reduction.

a. This means our initial carbon tax rate of $5 cannot be directly compared with that in other countries. Jurisdictions with higher headline carbon prices often also have significant exemptions for particular sectors, which lowers their effective carbon prices.

C16. The carbon tax will be levied on major emitters, which account for about 80% of Singapore’s emissions. The remaining 20% is contributed by many other sources of varying sizes. We will study how to account for these emissions, and take action where necessary.

C17. For petrol, diesel and compressed natural gas (CNG), we have excise duties, which already encourage reduction of the use of these fuels, and therefore reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

a. Hence, I will not levy an additional carbon tax on petrol, diesel and CNG.

b. I will also not increase their excise duties at this point in time, but we will continue to review and adjust them periodically.

C18. The carbon tax will encourage businesses to take measures to reduce carbon emissions.

a. Companies that do so will be more competitive, as more countries impose tighter limits on their carbon emissions, and international agreements on climate change like the Paris Agreement take effect.

b. There will also be new opportunities in areas like sustainable energy and clean technology.

c. We have to start preparing early so that industries have more time to adapt.

C19. To give companies and households a strong push in the first five years when we introduce the carbon tax, we will provide more grants and support to help them enhance energy efficiency and reduce emissions.

a. We expect to collect carbon tax revenue of nearly $1 billion in the first five years.

b. To achieve our goal of reducing emissions intensity as soon as possible, I am prepared to spend more than this in the initial five years, to support worthwhile projects which deliver the necessary abatement in emissions.

d. I urge companies to do their part, for a higher quality living environment for all, by putting in meritorious proposals for emissions abatement and energy efficiency. Our agencies will evaluate these rigorously.

e. I will set aside funds starting from 2019 to enhance support for companies, including SMEs and power generation companies, to improve energy efficiency.

i. The support for companies will be done through schemes like the Productivity Grant (Energy Efficiency) and the Energy Efficiency Fund. (Refer to Annex B.)

ii. More support will go to projects that achieve greater emissions abatement, beyond the basic enhancements.

iii. The Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) and the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR) will share more details at a later date.

C20. For our households, the impact of the carbon tax will be small, at about 1% of total electricity and gas expenses on average.

a. Still, to help households adjust, I will provide additional U-Save for three years. Eligible HDB households will each receive $20 more per year, from 2019 to 2021.

b. The increase in U-Save will cover the expected average increase in electricity and gas expenses for HDB households arising from the carbon tax. (Refer to Annex B.)

c. MEWR will also work with the community to help households save energy, and will announce more details at a later date.

C21. We have designated 2018 as the Year of Climate Action, to encourage all Singaporeans to fight climate change. The Minister for the Environment and Water Resources will speak more on our other plans to reduce energy use and carbon emissions at the COS.

Together, a Smart, Green and Liveable City

C22. Ultimately, measures like the carbon tax, along with our R&D programmes and Smart Nation investments, are to make Singapore a more liveable and sustainable city. In this effort, everyone has a role to play.

C23. I am heartened to see various community efforts in this area.

a. For instance, the Community in Bloom movement has brought together 36,000 gardening enthusiasts to cultivate more than 1,300 gardens all over Singapore, beautifying our landscape and fostering community spirit.

b. And the Kayak Waterway Clean-Up Programme, run by the non-profit Waterways Watch Society, brings volunteers together to remove debris from our rivers and reservoirs while raising environmental awareness.

C24. In ways big and small, we can all contribute to building a smarter, greener and more liveable city for all Singaporeans to enjoy.

C25. Mr Speaker, Sir, with your permission I will continue later with the measures we will implement to foster a caring and cohesive society, and ensure a fiscally sustainable and secure future for Singapore.


Last updated on 19 Feb 2018
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