Pritam Singh of the Workers’ Party said on Friday (Feb 28) that the WP cannot support the GST hike until revenue and expenditure projections are made transparent.
According to a recent report by Mothership, on the third day of the Budget debate, Mr Singh restated that the WP’s stance against the GST hike has not changed since 2018. Drawing from the premise that the Government bases its decisions on reports of projected income and expenditure, he asked, “Will the government make public these projections so that Singaporeans can critically evaluate the necessity of a GST hike?”
Mr Singh argued that publicising these reports would result in bringing about effective debates on raising the hike to 9%. “This can only advance and mature conversations that take place in Singapore,” he said. “Until this clarity is provided, the WP position has not changed. We cannot support a GST hike, especially since this is to be raised in advance and before the government’s projections have been put to this house.”
Calling the GST a “regressive tax,” Mr Singh also argued that though S$6 billion have been allocated as a financial cushion, the offsets will not endure. Mr Singh argued that middle class citizens would eventually feel the scarcity as they would have to cut spending.
According to Channel News Asia, Mr Singh also probed the issue of support packages put in place not being taken from Singapore’s reserves. This is in contrast to the global financial crisis in 2008 wherein the Government drew from its reserves in response to the economic plummet. Mr Singh questioned why, even with reports of Singaporeans asking for more discussions on the reserves, there has been a lack of transparency on the Government’s part.
“These calls for greater transparency are not out of place and they will continue in years to come,” Mr Singh explained. They run in parallel with the Singapore Together spirit, with Singaporeans taking ownership, exploring fiscal solutions, seeking to co-create not just today’s Singapore, but a sustainable and equitable tomorrow that future generations of Singaporeans will inherit.”
At the end of his speech, Mr Singh stressed that Singapore’s strength lies in its diversity. Recognising the importance of the involvement and participation of multiple sectors of the country, Mr Singh held on to hope for the future, saying “As long as our people, youth, businesses and individuals engage the issues of the day civilly in our democracy, and treat their fellow Singaporeans and foreigners within our midst with dignity and empathy, and endeavour for a more caring society, the best years of Singapore, a Singapore for all, are ahead of us.” /TISG