Netizens clamor for ministerial pay cut as Indranee Rajah defends GST hike

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Senior Minister of State for Law Indranee Rajah has earned the ire of some Singaporeans after she commented on the impending Goods and Services Tax (GST) hike that Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat unveiled in his 2018 budget speech on Monday.

Speaking at a REACH dialogue on the Budget, Indranee said that tapping on more than the returns from investing Singapore’s reserves is a “slippery slope”.

Presently, the Government can tap on up to 50 per cent of the expected long-term investment returns generated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore, Temasek Holdings and GIC.

Indranee indicated that introducing an increase in GST to manage expenditures is a more secure fiscal plan than increasing spending of the Net Investment Returns (NIR) of the reserves to above 50 per cent:

“We think that 50 per cent is a fair figure. If you start going down the slippery slope then after a while you have to make your principal work a lot harder. And then you are also not assured that you will be able to get consistent returns all the time, you don’t know what the investment market will be like.
“The better thing to do if you want to ensure consistency, stability and sustainability…is to continue to tap, but keep it at 50 per cent and then also introduce the increase in GST.”

She added in a subsequent Facebook post:

“The greater the percentage of NIR we use, the more the risks are magnified.
“We take 50% to be fair and prudent – use half now, and leave half for the future. We should continue this for as long as we can, in order to both preserve and grow our inheritance.
“The NIR contribution from reserves is already the largest single source of revenue. Rather than over-relying on the yield from our reserves, we need to ensure a continuing and sustainable source of revenue to fund our future needs. Increasing the GST rate would achieve this.”

Indranee’s comments echo Heng Swee Keat’s explanation during Budget 2018, that the government has been tapping on the reserves over the last decade, but that we must dispense these resources “prudently” given the mature economy and aging population.

He proclaimed that relying too much on the reserves will deplete Singapore’s nest egg and stressed, “this is not the Singapore way.”

Netizens responding to Indranee’s explanation about the necessity for a GST increase appear to remain unconvinced.

One Facebook user slammed the parliamentarian’s explanation and criticised the lack of substantive proof that a GST hike is absolutely negative. He added, GST affects everyone from craddle to grave, yet all we got is such a sloppy decision making process based on gut feel.”

Kenny Chong: I read the whole piece and no where does she present any substantive argument other than saying “We think that 50 per cent is a fair figure.” Who is ‘we’? Where is the input from economists, mathematicians, statisticians, academics, big data analysts, sociologists? GST affects everyone from craddle to grave, yet all we got is such a sloppy decision making process based on gut feel. And our PM is satisfied with his team’s sloppiness in running the country based on fantasies?
At the very least, the government should show the absolute NIR trend over the last 10 years, and run a model against it so that we know what absolute dollars are we talking about. Then forecast the NIR trend for the next 5 years to check consistency. 50% is but a relative figure. Against an NIR of $10B and $20B, it is $5B and $10B respectively. But I don’t believe GST spending has any correlation with NIR. Therefore the debate should not be about 50 or 60%, but rather the absolute quantum.

Others called on the government to initiate a ministerial pay cut instead of taxing average Singaporeans further:

This is not the first time Singaporeans have clamored for a ministerial pay cut amid hints from the government that tax will rise.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s confirmation that it is a matter of when and not whether taxes will be increased, at the PAP Convention late last year, prompted netizens to urge the PM to slash the high salaries ministers draw, instead of pushing the financial burden of increased spending to the people:

Click on the comments below to enlarge

Incensed netizens condemn high ministerial salaries as PM Lee confirms impending tax hike

81 COMMENTS

  1. These ministers would never listen to the citizens. They dun feel the pain of all these increases. Bonuses on 3-5 months would surpass the yearly salaries of 50% of Singaporeans. Singaporeans have a very clear choice to make in the next election. Do you want to feel the continuous pain to your daily life at the expense of the 300 dollars that they are giving you to try to shut you up?

  2. GST affects everyone in all walks of life , especially the poor , unemployed , middle class, etc. It puts an additional , painful financial strain on your pocket especially when every cent you spend counts ……imagine how to make ends meet each day? For the rich it’s only a sneeze but I pity the less financially able

  3. What is the point of quoting slammjng and shooting ? Go and assemble an economist panel to talk about it. Non mainstream media should look towards CNN and or Brookings as role model. Argue it intellectually. But present the argument simply. Not like that school dropout tutor who masquerade overseas.

  4. GST make Singaporean rich and more welfare. If we are capable to help China and Japan to build a strong and rich region for the Great East Asia Republic Union. We a construct our next generation future. If feel uncertain and unconfident, we just do for what USA said, we just do for Human Right organization said and so on. We are doing complicated thing for our next generation. 如果我们能够帮助中国和日本为大东亚共和国联盟建立一个强大和富裕的地区。 我们构建了我们的下一代未来。 如果感到不确定和不自信,我们只是为了美国所说的话,我们只是为人权组织所说的话等等。 我们为下一代做了复杂的事情。

  5. Country can ONLY be PROUD if they have products that is used by THE WORLD.
    In SG, we are BUYING, BUYING AND BUYING. Throwing, Throwing and Throwing.
    Does Microsoft, Google has research TEAMS in SG? NO.!!
    How can you be buying and buying when PEOPLE are not even interested in CREATING
    jobs in SG?!!

  6. We can talk until the cow comes home

    Singaporean will eventually have to accept the fact that GST will increase n taxes will increase and everything in Singapore will keep increasing and nothing will go down …

    From the ‘craddle to the grave’…

    It affects everyone , especially the poor , the middle income and many elderly folks whom already retired or trying hard to meet ends meet etc…

    At the end of the day, it all boils down to ‘ human greed ‘ …

    The ‘ Rich ‘ will always wants to be Richer and will fight all the way at the expense of the population …

    How much more ??? do you want to continue increasing our taxes , GST , ERP , etc…

    How much more???

    Remember:-

    You came to this world , naked and bought nothing here

    You will go empty handed too

    Why can’t you live and let live …

    Many people already suffering over daily bread and butter issues …

    Kindly reconsider all options , all possible , feasible solutions and make peace ✌ with your mind, soul and your HEART ❤️

    GOD bless all…

    Amen…

  7. The solution is to immediately stop Jewel, t5 and liquidate Temask and prohibit the sucessor companies from any CPF money.
    That’ll save money. It’s also incumbent for Singaporeans to call it the ministers and Mps put them on the spot. compel them to justify the budget.

  8. Next year they may cut minister salary to get votes since many are not happy with their sky high salary This new bonus is to give a little butter since many r unhappy with many things lately Next year higher bonus follow by election than after that they will take whole chicken from the ppl

  9. Ombudsman is NOT allowed in Singapore, because our government has sufficient checking mechanism to discover, investigate and punish wrongdoers.

    Ombudsman: an official appointed to investigate individuals’ complaints against a company or organization, especially a public authority.

  10. Justify the unjustifiable. The govt is trying to be sly:GST IS URGENT but we’ll wait till after the elections. Man up impose it now and deal with the fall out.
    There are other ways to lower costs. Stop the infrastructure projects, abolish the property tax on property we don’t own, roll back the water tax and all other levies and costs. O and return the 5 billion windfall since the govt only expected 1,9

  11. The ministers pay is the most highest is the world. because Singapore is a foundation like running a firm.
    a Pyramid with those the those Ministers on the top and locals are the rock bottom. We are the one working the most but being taxes the most and earn the least 🙂