During the debate on strategies to emerge stronger from the COVID-19 pandemic, NCMP Leong Mun Wai said that by “hastily increasing taxes and fees while at the same time pledging Covid-19 support measures”, the government was seen as “giving with one hand and taking with the other”.
In his speech in Parliament on Wednesday (Oct 14), Mr Leong cited the 9.3 per cent electricity tariff hike for the last quarter of 2020 that was announced by Singapore Power (the SP Group) on the Sep 30. He said: “Here is a power-grid monopolist which does not generate electricity, but made billions of dollars since the liberalization of the electricity market in 2012, sparing no time in raising prices at the first available opportunity, even as Singaporeans struggle under the Covid-19 crisis”.
He suggested that SP Group could have absorbed the increase from its past profits passing the increased cost on to consumers.
Additionally, Mr Leong brought up that on Oct 9, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) announced that the ERP at six gantries along the CTE would be increased by S$1 from Oct 12 to ease congestion during peak periods.
He said: “These untimely announcements were made consecutively in a short period of two weeks, adding hundreds of dollars more to household expenditures during these austere times when every cent counts to the average Singaporean”.
“These policies only act as a catalyst to heighten the already increasing public apprehension of more tax and fee hikes coming their way, giving rise to concerns such as whether the GST will be increased soon after 2021”, Mr Leong noted.
He then continued: “Is the country so overstretched financially that we have to replenish our coffers with those hikes and in such haste?”
“This leads to the 3 key questions often asked by Singaporeans regarding the $100B of support measures.
1. How is the $100B spent?
2. How is the $100B paid for?
3. How much reserves are left after paying the $100B?” Mr Leong questioned.
Going though approximate figures himself, Mr Leong commended the government for its shrewd management of the country’s finances and said, “It appears that there is no need for the tax and fee hikes to take place so soon”.
“In conclusion, I would like to reiterate that going forward, no strategy will be effective if Singaporeans are not convinced by the facts and figures. It is my belief that they will not be ready to participate in any governmental endeavours whole-heartedly. And we have to strengthen our social safety net before we can convince and attract Singaporeans to take up the entrepreneurial challenge. This is an opportune time to rethink and to re-calibrate, as we move forward post-Covid”, Mr Leong added, noting that the Progress Singapore Party (PSP) intends to bring forth its other ideas into Parliament as well. /TISG