Singapore — The new Progress Singapore Party (PSP) announced its recommendations for Budget 2020 on Wednesday (Feb 12), marking the first time it has released policy recommendations.
Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat will deliver the Budget Statement in Parliament on Feb 18.
The PSP, which is led by Dr Tan Cheng Bock, was launched last year. Dr Tan served as Member of Parliament for the Ayer Rajah Single Member Constituency for 26 years, from 1980 to 2006.
The PSP recommendations are in the four official languages — English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil — and can be found on the party’s website.
These recommendations, it wrote, “can serve as a benefit to Singaporeans in the current challenging economic climate”.
The party’s Assistant Secretary-General, Mr Leong Mun Wai, said: “We are experiencing the strongest economic headwinds since the Global Financial Crisis and arguably a long-overdue economic transformation, which combined makes Budget 2020 a very important one.”
These are the PSP’s seven recommendations:
- Broader relief package for businesses — PSP welcomes government’s immediate short-term relief to assist Singaporeans and local companies to tide over this current rough patch and with the difficulties brought on by the novel coronavirus epidemic. The current situation is hurting not only the tourism sector, but also transport, retail and F&B industries. Therefore, we propose that Budget 2020 be more broad-based in alleviating cost and maintaining employment to help local companies through this uncertain time.
- Expansionary budget to tide through the current crises — In such an uncertain economic climate, an expansionary budget is advisable as it boosts spending by transferring income to the economic segments in need, which will in turn increase output and employment in the economy.
- Fiscal budget is not a goodie-bag — Rather than short-term occasional handouts, we would prefer to see more permanent plans being put in place that allow Singaporeans to plan their lives and careers better and give local companies greater visibility of their future business prospects.
- Building a sustainable economy — Singapore has had Budget surpluses from 1971 (including an accumulated surplus of about S$15.6bn [i] for this term of Government) and sizeable annual Net Investment Returns Contribution (NIRC) [ii] earned from our sovereign wealth. As such, we support a more effective use of the NIRC to transform our economy, to nurture our local businesses, to spur jobs and training opportunities, and to even conduct a fundamental review of the educational system to better nurture local talents to meet the needs of the future industries.
- No to GST hike — Our strong financial standing should give us the courage to address with sustainable longer term policies the mounting concerns of Singaporeans on issues such as rising cost of living, housing and healthcare costs; competition for jobs from non-Singaporeans; retirement inadequacy; as well as rising social inequality. In the immediate future, we advise against a further rise in the Goods & Services Tax (GST) or any other fees, at least in the next five years.
- Taxpayers should not be burdened for large infrastructure projects — Given that our economy is relatively mature, we are of the view that long-term infrastructure projects (for example, the Changi Airport Terminal 5) should be based on their own financial and commercial merit and should not require tax increases to fund them. Of course, those projects with a large social benefit component should be given different consideration.
- A prudent approach to expenditures — From 2008 to 2018, total government expenditure grew by 107%, outpacing our GDP growth of 79% over the same period. PSP is of the view that we should be financially prudent and keep increases in government spending below GDP growth, like the private sector practice of keeping cost increase below revenue growth. /TISG
In anticipation of Budget 2020 Singapore on 18th February, here’s what Progress Singapore Party would envision it to…