Singapore — Ten days away from his first SGBudget rollout, Finance Minister Lawrence Wong released a brief video explaining how the upcoming GST hike would ultimately benefit Singaporeans.

Many netizens, however, feeling the effects of higher prices amid the economic fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic, commented on Mr Wong’s video to say they don’t believe now is the right time to raise Goods & Services Tax.

“No more giving chicken wings than take back the chicken farm,” as one netizen wrote.

The minister, who is presenting the budget in Parliament next Friday (Feb 18), posted his video on his Facebook page on Wednesday (Feb 9).

In it, he said that the country is “at a critical turning point” at this stage of dealing with the pandemic.

In order to “build a better Singapore for tomorrow”, he added, “we will need to invest more in our people and our social infrastructure. The GST increase will help generate the revenues we need for this purpose”.

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Mr Wong acknowledged the concerns of “many” over higher costs of living.

He answered these concerns by saying, “This is why we will have a comprehensive set of measures in place to cushion the impact of GST on lower-income and middle-income households, as well as retirees”.

For example, a couple with two children who have a combined income of S$5,000 a month would be receiving about S$6,500 in benefits under the Assurance Package, which Mr Wong said is ten times more than the additional GST they would shell out yearly after the increase kicks in.

The Finance Minister said he will explain more during the Budget rollout.

The mild-mannered Mr Wong does not usually get many unhappy comments on his Facebook page, but for this video, many netizens came forward to express their views.

A number of commenters seemed to feel that now is not the right time for the GST hike.

A netizen asked, “is this REALLY THE BEST TIME to implement this policy?”

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One wrote, “Raising taxes of own citizens during this difficult time. Really?”

“Please be a leader with a heart for the people u are serving,” one netizen wrote.

“Now definitely is very very bad timing,” wrote another.

A commenter wrote, “I think you should settle covid then care about GST.”

A woman who described herself as a “disable(d) old Auntie” wrote, “Please spare a minute to read citizens comment, we need to speak out our unhappiness.”

More than one netizen asked what the government is doing to cope with inflation.

/TISG

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