Activists organise Speakers’ Corner protest against impending GST hike

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Noted activist Gilbert Goh is organising a protest against the impending Goods and Services Tax (GST) hike. The protest will be held tomorrow (Sat, 3 Mar) from 4pm to 7pm at the Speakers’ Corner in Hong Lim Park.

The event will see speeches by Goh and six other civil society players: Tan Kin Lian, Osman Sulaiman, Lim Tean and Damanhuri, Goh Meng Seng and Prabu. Any Singaporean who wishes to talk about the GST hike is also welcome to speak at the event, according to Goh.

Sharing why he is organising such an event, Goh wrote on Facebook:

“Singaporeans will need to pay another 2% of GST after 2021 and though the financial pain will only be felt in three years’ time, no one is really leaping up in joy.

“GST is a regressive taxation system which will hurt the poor and lower-incomed more as their income is lesser than ordinary and they need to fork out more after the increase to make ends meet. The government has ensured that there will be subsidies and GST vouchers to help the poor but is it adequate?

“There is also the sad fact that our GST covers all items compared to other countries whose basic essential items are GST-exempt making it a more humane and compassionate society.

“We have already bear the tag of being the world’s costliest city in the world for many years running and a GST increase will only make things worse for the people who also struggle with low and no minimal wages. A low-waged worker can be paid less than $1000/month working 8 hours daily for a 6-day work week and it is all legitimate.

“Many have also questioned the rationale for increasing GST even though it is in three years’ time as we still have a healthy $9.6 billion budget surplus incurred from last year expenditure and our reserves in the sovereign fund figured around $700 billion. Surely there is something there in the rosy numbers to help cushion another GST increase? Why keep so much reserves if it is not meant to improve the living condition of the people?

“Moreover, GST is usually raised abroad by countries with a unhealthy fiscal sounding and there is a urgent need to top up the coffers to meet a long-term expenditure requirement. Our financial health seems sound and our prudent expenditure has help us to accumulate budget surplus regularly which is laudable on the part of the government.

“So far, we have collected alot of revenue from COE, ERP, casinos’ levy, foreign workers’ levies, stamp duties, personal and corporate taxes, existing GST, land sales among others and a further 2% additional tax on GST seems like peanuts compared to a huge avalanche of other taxes that are collected each year. Each percentage point of GST increase further boasts our coffers by around $1.6 to $1.8 billion but the financial burden bears by the common people can be enormous.

“Last year, anything that can be raised were taken care of and a GST increase may be the last straw that could break the fragile camel’s back.

“We call on all Singaporeans who are unhappy with the ungracious GST increase to come by our event and voice out our displeasure legitimately. Speakers’ corner is a legalised approved place by Parliament to allow Singaporeans to gather together and speak out against a unpopular policy.

“Our events were attended by more than 10,000 people in total and so far we have no problem with the authorities. We will play by the book to ensure that participants will be able to enjoy the outing in a fuss-free environment.

“We may not be able to change the mind of the authorities not to raise GST but at least we do something together as Singaporeans rather than pounding away at our keyboards in frustration alone.

“It is time to stand up Singaporeans and be counted.

If you want to speak your mind off on that day, please let us know. We love to see ordinary Singaporeans affected by such unpopular policy to raise up and let your views be heard.

“Thank you and see you soon my fellow Singaporeans. The time to raise up is NOW…”

Goh gave the Independent a sneak peek of the event’s banner, which confirms that the event is entitled “Why increase GST when we have so much reserve and budget surplus”: