Singapore — Still stewing days after being told to expect a GST hike and GST voucher rebates, netizens vented their frustrations online.
Sharing information on the GST voucher rebates and the GST hike on social media and Facebook groups such as Umbrage Singapore and United Singaporean, netizens made comments along these lines: “Remember hor – nothing is for free”, and “Give you chicken wing, later take away entire chicken a la GST hike”.
They were reacting to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s New Year’s message which offered the gloomy news that an increase in the GST, or Goods and Services Tax, from 7 per cent to 9 per cent, was imminent.
Still, when Mr Lee said last Friday that “we have to to start moving on this” given the need for a “vibrant economy to generate resources”, it wasn’t exactly red hot news. The increase had been announced in 2018 during the Budget speech by then-Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat who had said at the time that he expected it to take place between 2021 and 2025.
Last Friday, PM Lee also said that some 950,000 HDB households would receive their quarterly GST Voucher – U-Save rebates in January.
The households would have received regular payouts and special payments totalling S$460 million for this financial year.
While none of the recipients is likely to reject these handouts, they are unlikely to deter griping online and offline.
The government must have reliable and adequate revenues to carry out its social programmes, said Mr Lee, noting that it needs more revenue to pay for expanding the healthcare systems and support schemes for older citizens.
“This is the rationale for raising a broad-based tax like the GST, coupled with a comprehensive scheme of offsets to cushion the impact on lower-income households,” said Mr Lee.
The GST forms an essential component of the country’s system of taxes and transfers, which also includes income and wealth taxes.
People who are better off should contribute a larger share, but everyone needs to shoulder at least a small part of the tax burden. “Overall, our system will remain progressive and fair,” he added.
Mr Lee said that the GST hike had been foreseen. “Now that our economy is emerging from Covid-19, we have to start moving on this.” /TISG
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