"WE must extend a helping hand to those who face difficulty coping with globalisation and change," Mr Lee said. "We must help low income households to improve their prospects, and older Singaporeans to live full and active lives."
Whenever elections are held the People's Action party is expected to win with ease. It holds 82 of 84 elected seats, and the opposition remains fragmented.
The S$2.6bn (US$1.6bn, £917m, euro1.3bn) giveaway will help Mr Lee and his fellow ministers rebuff charges that income inequalities are widening. Among the schemes announced by Mr Lee were so-called "growth dividends" that all adult Singaporeans are entitled to receive in cash. He estimated that 45 per cent of the population would be in line for at least S$800 each.
A separate scheme will give S$400 to each of the 400,000 adult males who have completed compulsory national service requirements. Those serving will get S$100 now, and a further S$300 when they finish. The prime minister said the combined effect of the cash payments and extra investment in research and development would turn a projected surplus of S$700m for the 2006 financial year into a projected deficit of S$2.9bn.
FT Syndication Service