Budget Speech


  1. Today, our shining little red dot can hold its own on the global stage. But as the Minister for National Development has said, “we are not done building Singapore”. Infrastructure takes time to build, but once built, can serve us for a long time. We must take a long view for our development plans.
  2. The upcoming URA Master Plan 2019 will guide our urban development over a 10- to 15-year time frame. It ensures that our limited land can be optimised to meet the needs of current and future generations. The Minister for National Development will share more details at the COS.
  3. The long-term transformation of our city must start with our HDB estates, where most Singaporeans’ homes are. It is important that we keep our living environment first-class.
    1. Many cities have large tracts that slip into disrepair over time – we must avoid that. We must strive to make every town in Singapore green and liveable, by rejuvenating them systematically over time.

    Linking Our City to the World

  4. As our home, and a global node, our city has to be well-connected within and with the world.
  5. Within Singapore, we now have about 230km of MRT lines. This will rise to about 360km in the 2030s when major MRT projects such as the Cross Island Line are completed.
  6. To enhance our global connectivity, we are increasing the capacities of our airport and sea port. This will strengthen our role as a key node within Asia and to the world. Connecting to future growth, knowledge, and cultural centres in Asia and beyond will not only benefit Singaporeans, but also add to the connectivity and vibrancy in our region.
  7. Ensuring a Sustainable Environment for All

  8. Beyond the next decade, we must also plan for climate change. Climate change and rising sea levels threaten our very existence. As a low-lying island nation, there is nowhere to hide when sea levels rise. Other small island nations like the Maldives are already facing the risk of flooding, with severe implications.
  9. The Government is studying the implications carefully and will come up with measures to prepare ourselves adequately. Our Climate Action Plan, which was launched in 2016, sets out the strategy for mitigating and adapting to the impacts of climate change, especially on our infrastructure.
    1. In line with the Action Plan, low-lying roads near coastal areas have been raised.
    2. Changi Airport Terminal 5 will also be built at 5.5 metres above mean sea level.
    3. The use of polders and dikes is already being piloted on Pulau Tekong. These will help us to learn how to deal with rising sea levels.
    4. To protect ourselves against climate change and rising sea levels, we will have to invest more. Together with existing infrastructure needs, our total bill for infrastructure will increase significantly. It is very difficult to project spending needs way into the future, but the different Ministries have done some preliminary estimates. We will continue to do our best to look forward, develop fiscal plans well in advance, and put in place the right approach to finance such long-lived major infrastructure. Each generation should contribute its fair share.
  10. Tackling climate change requires global cooperation. Singapore is committed to doing our part. It is the responsible thing to do for our children and future generations.
    1. The carbon tax will be applied on this year’s emissions. This is an important signal to companies and households to reduce emissions and adopt energy-efficient practices.
    2. As individuals, we too must change our way of life and work towards becoming a zero waste nation, by adopting the 3Rs: reducing consumption, reusing, and recycling.
      1. The Zero Waste Masterplan will be launched in the second half of this year. Among other issues, it will look at better management of food waste, e-waste, and packaging waste including plastics. The Minister for the Environment and Water Resources will provide more details at the COS.
  11. Given our dense urban environment, air quality and greenery are especially important. NParks has done an excellent job in greening Singapore – our island has more than 40% green cover. This improves our living environment and our air quality.
  12. But diesel exhaust is highly pollutive, and adversely affects our people’s health17 and quality of life. Many cities in Europe have announced restrictions on diesel vehicle usage. We have taken steps to discourage diesel consumption.
    1. Over the years, we have implemented schemes to encourage early renewal of diesel commercial goods vehicles, and to also account for the impact of vehicular emissions. We have seen positive results. More owners are shifting towards more environmentally friendly engines such as electric hybrids. We are glad to see a drop in the numbers of new diesel cars and taxis registered.
    2. We also restructured diesel taxes in 2017 to shift away from an annual amount of tax towards a usage-based tax system. We permanently reduced the annual special tax on diesel cars and taxis and re-introduced the volumetric diesel duty.
    3. To continue the restructuring of diesel taxes, I will raise the excise duty for diesel by $0.10 per litre, to $0.20 per litre. This takes immediate effect.
    4. At the same time, I will permanently reduce the annual Special Tax on diesel taxis by $850. I strongly urge taxi companies to pass on the savings to their drivers, like they did in 2017 – this will on average reduce the impact of the duty increase by more than three-quarters for taxis. I will also permanently reduce the Special Tax on diesel cars by $100. This will on average reduce the impact by more than half.
    5. To help businesses adjust, I will provide a 100% road tax rebate for one year, and partial road tax rebate for another two years, for commercial diesel vehicles.
    6. I will also provide, over three years, additional cash rebates of up to $3,200 for diesel buses ferrying school children. (Refer to Annex E.)
  13. Building a more sustainable environment makes our quality of life better, and also creates economic opportunities.
  14. Just as we closed the water loop, we can now turn our attention to closing the waste loop.
    1. There are already start-ups tackling this challenge. Two companies, UglyGood and Tria, have been working on innovative ways to convert food-related waste into useful products.
    2. These are good examples of opportunities in our zero waste movement. So I hope to see more of such initiatives in the coming years.
  15. Our beautiful living environment can also be enhanced through the smart use of technology, as a part of our Smart Nation efforts.
    1. To reduce energy use, we have implemented district cooling in the Marina Bay area.
    2. To improve our quality of life, we have started rolling out pneumatic waste collection, and trialled smart urban mobility solutions.
    3. Buildings can also be designed to be environmentally friendly, for example, by being energy efficient and producing enough renewable energy to run itself. BCA was the first to retrofit its academy in 2009, making it the first retrofitted net-zero energy building in South-East Asia. This year, NUS’s School of Design and Environment launched SDE4, a brand new net-zero energy building.
  16. These initiatives contribute towards making our environment more sustainable and pleasant. The National Research Foundation will continue to fund research and innovation in Urban Solutions and Sustainability.
  17. Building Vibrant and Endearing Homes for Our People

  18. Our public housing policies have also been uniquely successful because of our long-term planning.
  19. Today, we are not just building new flats. We are improving the quality of life for Singaporeans, through the rejuvenation of our public housing estates.
    1. Our plans for the rejuvenation and renewal of our city includes the Home Improvement Programme (HIP), the Neighbourhood Renewal Programme (NRP) and the Remaking Our Heartland (ROH) initiative.
    2. For the longer term, we have announced HIP 2 and the Voluntary Early Redevelopment Scheme (VERS).
    3. These are plans that will keep our living environment first-class over the coming years.
  20. The Minister for National Development will be sharing more on these plans to build endearing homes for our people at the COS.
17 The World Health Organisation (WHO) has classified diesel engine exhaust as carcinogenic.