By Augustine Low
Speaking of the upcoming Budget earlier this week, Heng Swee Keat tried his best to temper expectations, saying he is neither Santa Claus giving out goodies nor Robin Hood doing great things.
But something has to give, and someone has to do the taking. It looks like Singaporeans are bearing the brunt of it. Already we know for a fact that taxes are going up – not just GST but e-commerce taxes, airport taxes, possibly wealth taxes and what else they can come up with to start taxing or tax more.
As Finance Minister, Heng will be remembered as the one to initiate a robust round of taxes. While Santa Claus or Robin Hood may not quite fit the bill, he can be dubbed the Taxman. Yes, Taxman Heng kind of fits him to a T.
So Singaporeans will have to brace ourselves for a round of tax hikes, and make do with less for lunch. Speaking of which, we should have seen the writing on the wall when PM Lee Hsien Loong gave this odd bit of advice last May: “You must make sure you steal somebody else’s lunch.”
Perhaps the government, in failing to trump the competition and steal their lunch, has decided to set its sights on Singaporeans’ lunch instead. Lest we be accused of taking the PM’s advice too literally, just look at what our GLCs have been up to. They have gone overseas to steal others’ lunch, by hook or by crook, and got nabbed for corruption and bribery. Did they take PM Lee’s advice to the hilt, at face value?
PM Lee should have given this caveat: You must steal somebody else’s lunch but make sure you don’t get caught!
As for Singaporeans, we have no choice but to save on lunch when Taxman Heng comes-a-calling. Let’s hope he doesn’t get any funny ideas from a song by The Beatles titled – what else – Taxman:
If you drive a car, I’ll tax the street,
If you try to sit, I’ll tax your seat.
If you get too cold, I’ll tax the heat,
If you take a walk, I’ll tax your feet.