The good thing about not being chosen to be one of the beautiful people to promote Budget 2018 is that I am free to write whatever I feel like writing on Budget 2018.
Saltiness aside, here are two things to look forward to in 2018.
a) GST increase
My personal guess is that the GST increase will be gradual but extensive. So perhaps we may see a 1% increase every 1-2 years until it reaches 10%. This will immediately have a negative impact on the purchasing power of the bottom half of income earners in Singapore.
What I am doing is that I have started rushing to subscribe to the magazines I read. I bought a 2 year subscription to the Economist last week and might take some steps to cut down on my telco expenses.
b) More Immigration
We don't really know when the floodgates will be open again but I expect the consultation with the citizens to be just lip service. We are aging rapidly and the government WILL DEFINITELY sacrifice political capital to bring in more foreigners.
Once foreign technologists and engineers start gushing in to take up roles in our Silicon Valley, expect salaries of folks in IT and Tech to be held back once again for a decade or so. The biggest losers are Polytechnic and ITE graduates who are failing to clinch permanent jobs even when foreign workers are being curbed. Worse, during the flood of foreign workers prior to the 2011 elections, Polytechnic graduates are hardly getting any increments while University graduates just zoomed ahead. This can only make our education system more competitive and stressful.
Still, there is reason to be less apprehensive of immigrants this time round. Our infrastructure is more or less ready for more people on this island. Landlords and investors have reason to rejoice as there will be more demand for leases as the foreigners reinvigorate the economy. Many Singaporeans with two homes can look forward to selling both to an immigrant family and settling down in Australia instead.
I expect the legal sector to benefit from immigration as well. Our numbers remained heavily under control and a higher population will always lead to more disputes and greater demand for legal advice.
c) Wealth Taxation
As we have started talking about immigration, I think wealth taxation will not be high up on the government's agenda. We're still trying to build our REIT market and startup ecosystem. This means rolling out the red carpet to International wealth.
So long as immigration can return to Singapore, the government can finally end those silly PIC credits for SMEs which opens up opportunities for cheating. This can free up more money for the aging population.
Whatever it is, I expect 2018 to be a better year for the Rentier-Supermanager. More rents, more income for those with professional skills and financial assets that command a higher value.