Why We Shouldn’t Ask for Budget Hongbao

22 Feb 2018

Over the Chinese New Year weekend, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat remarked that "everyone has been asking me if there will be a hongbao", or red packet, in this year's Budget. This wish was promptly answered.

The 2018 Singapore Budget announced on Monday includes a one-off cash payment to every adult Singaporean of $100 to $300, known as the SG Bonus. This will no doubt be popular with citizens and will be especially appreciated by lower-income households.

In social policy analysis, these cash payments are viewed as irregular transfers. They are irregular in that individual payments are one-off rather than routine or permanent, and are not regarded as part of the overall framework of social policy to address specific social needs.

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Ng Kok Hoe

Assistant Professor