GST hike: Damned if they do, damned if they don’t

PM Lee on future GST hikes

The government thought it was being clever in announcing the impending GST hike early. The calculus: by giving Singaporeans at least three years’ heads-up, they would have time to bite the bullet and brace themselves for a GST increase to 9%.

But all of a sudden, Malaysia’s Barisan Nasional lost power after 61 years and the new coalition government has already swiftly kept its promise to abolish the mightily unpopular 6% GST.

And let’s throw into the mix the promise by the Workers’ Party to make the GST hike a hot topic for the next general elections.

So what does the government do? If they press on and declare that the GST hike must go ahead as planned, it could spell a bit of trouble for them at the polls because Singaporeans by and large remain unconvinced of the necessity for the GST hike.

There are those who say the Malaysian tsunami will never cross over to Singapore, but you can never be too sure. There were also many who predicted that the Opposition coalition would never topple Barisan Nasional.

Among them was Bilahari Kausikan, Singapore’s former Permanent Secretary for Foreign Affairs and Ambassador-at-Large. In a commentary for The Straits Times on Oct 6 2015, Bilahari wrote with his usual swagger:

“Pakatan Harapan – a coalition of the DAP, Keadilan and a minor breakaway faction from PAS, is a forlorn hope (pun intended).”

Bilahari’s prediction-cum-declaration in bold is intended.

The Singapore government could always backtrack and refrain from implementing the GST hike. But it risks losing credibility if it does so – it has said time and again that it does not shy away from tough decisions and the day that it caves in because of public sentiment, it would forgo its responsibility to Singaporeans.

It’s a sort of catch-22 – where circumstances converge to present the ultimate dilemma.

We shall stay tuned to see how the government works itself out of the situation.

Meanwhile, Singaporeans have to be mindful that they can call the shots on this one because under the proposed timeframe, the GST hike will only be implemented after the next general elections.

Augustine Low is a proud but concerned citizen. Voicing independent, unplugged opinion is his contribution to citizen engagement.


  1. Why are we waiting in fear and apprehension? The PAP is notorious for their high handed way of implementing harsh policies and get things their way. Our fate and the consequences of the GST hike are cooked! It will happen! They need the money. And it’s is easier to tax the helpless and poor low income. Voters must open their eyes to the facts that increases in GST and public transportation fares hit the poor and middle income the hardest. So, no amount of grumbling and complaining will get us out of this rotten rut. We need to vote for a change.

  2. …if they had been doing what they should do ie work with the people , then this hurdle would not be there. But what they have done so far is to work for themselves and with people power changing the fortunes of those in power in the north, Pinkie now has to find a way to keep his fortune after screwing the people for so long…karma is bitch…

  3. What raise GST? We want it abolish!!!! Implement sales tax that is applicable from manufacturer to distributor. One layer of tax and that’s it. Gst is multi level taxation by the time the product reaches the consumer there are many level of gst taxed already that is why everything is expensive in spore. And gst is so evil that even a child or even an infant is being taxed!!!!

  4. Will know in end 2020 when Singapore prepares to have its next election. By then we will be able to see the impact of the abolishment of the 6% GST, the abolishment of all TOLL charges on Malaysian highway, the re-introduction of fuel subsidy & the increase in minimum wage on the Malaysian economy. By then the PH govt would have been in power for 2 years – we will be able to see the impact of their policies on Malaysia. It is either the beginning of a new dawn or the start of a very long night for Malaysia.