A data-centric look: Singapore Budget 2017

The Singapore government just announced the 2017 budget on February 20th 2017.

Rather than cover the budget from a policy perspective, which you can read in the budget statement, and which the mainstream media will cover, we will look at the 2017 budget from a pure data-centric numbers perspective as we have always done.

This is the fourth year running that we've been doing this, so you might want to check out the work done in our previous years:

This year the visualization has not changed much. 99% of the current visualization work was written last year and I just added the new data.

The whole point of this series is to give readers a sense of the long-term trends in the budgets. I do not argue normative judgements on whether we should be spending more or less; I just try my best to present the data as is.

Even still, this is of value and interest to readers, for from the data we can make factual statements over the long term. E.g. we can say that the spending on defence, viewed as a whole against spending by other ministries, has been falling for the past 10 years or so.

Please feel welcome to dig into the government's budget data to draw your own conclusions. If you want to embed the charts on your website or blog (media is more than welcome), please feel free to do so. The embed iframe code is given below each chart. A courtesy shoutout to V/R would be much appreciated!

                <iframe src="http://viz.sg/viz/budget2017/budget2017_revenue_vs_expenditure.html" style="border:0; overflow:hidden; width:100%; height:800px;"></iframe>

This year is projected to be a surplus year for the Singapore government.

This doesn't mean that our expenditures are going down or our revenues are going up that much however (compared to last year). In fact our government is projected to make a S$5.62 billion loss if it is just pure revenues minus expenditure.

The difference comes from the top-ups from the Net Returns Investments Contribution, which is monies coming from our sovereign wealth funds: GIC and Temasek.

                <iframe src="http://viz.sg/viz/budget2017/budget2017_expenditure.html" style="border:0; overflow:hidden; width:100%; height:800px;"></iframe>

8 ministries in Social Development sector

3 ministries Security and External Relations sector

4 ministries in Economic Development sector

4 ministries in Government Administration sector

For those who are not familiar with the data plot of this chart (especially when you toggle the percentage view), it is a comparison of expenditure spend against all ministries. The percentage view is not percentage as a fraction of GDP, which for FY2017 is estimated to be 17.7% of GDP.

I feel that it is a more interesting way of looking at the budget data for it gives a sense of the priorities of where our government spends on what sector/ministries. Your mileage might vary. For all percentages mentioned, do note that it is calculated as a spend across all ministries.

When you toggle the proportional 100% spend of ministries against each other, health as a sector stands out. This has increased YoY (13.2% in FY2015, 13.7% in FY2016 and a projected 14.3% in FY2017) and is taking up a bigger proportion of our budget.

Spending on transport has tapered down a bit from the last big spend in 2015 (16.5% in FY2015) to now (projected 12.2% spend in FY2017)

Defence still currently comprises almost a fifth of all total spend on our budget, but this percentage has fallen quite a bit over the years. In 2005 and 2006, the defence budget was almost a third of all spending.

Other taxes: Includes Foriegn Worker Levy, Development Charge, Annual Tonnage Tax and Water Conservation Tax

Other fees and charges: Includes revenue from Licenses, Permits, Service Fees, Sales of Goods, Rentals of Premises, Fines and Forfeitures, and Reimbursements

                <iframe src="http://viz.sg/viz/budget2017/budget2017_revenue.html" style="border:0; overflow:hidden; width:100%; height:800px;"></iframe>

From looking at the data, the rate of the government's revenue increase is projected to slow compared to the last few years (since FY2013).

For example, in FY2016 the government made S$6.87 billion and in FY2015 made S$6.48 billion. The YoY change in revenue increase for FY2017 is 1.2% compared to about 5.9% in FY2016.

One interesting nugget: Even though the projected revenue earned by Vehicle Quota Premiums will fall slightly (S$6.5 billion in FY2017 compared to S$6.8 billion in FY2016) this shortfall will be made up vehicle taxes, and the corresponding rate evens out.

One of the biggest tax increases reported in the media is a 30% hike in the water tax. From the description it seems to me that the water tax is listed as a category under "Other taxes". But as it is lumped in with a bunch of other taxes it is not possible to draw a direct correlation (YoY this catgeory will only increase 6% from FY2016 to projected FY2017 figures).

Data Sources

Do check out our other visualizations here at Viz.sg or at V/R for more cool stuff!