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“Profligate spending and irresponsible, unsustainable plans require you to raise taxes” – PM Lee in GE2015

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“What will make you need to raise GST? Profligate spending and irresponsible, unsustainable plans. That is what will hurt and require you to raise taxes and GST.”

This is what Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said at the PAP Headquarters on 5 September 2015, in the middle of the 2015 general elections campaigning period.

Referring to the Workers’ Party’s suggestion then that the government would raise taxes after the election had been won, PM Lee asserted that the government “did not play such games with voters.”

According to the New Paper, he further added:

“I think it’s a strange psychology to think that this is a government which is only dying to do bad things to people… Do we look like that? Here we are, trying to do the best and needing support. And I would turn the argument and say, be careful if they give more votes to the WP.
“WP will become even more arrogant and oppressive over the rest of the parties as they are already so.”
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The head of government also added that the PAP would be “mad” to raise taxes just because it received a strong mandate:

“Raising, adjusting taxes is a very big decision. You consider it carefully, you discuss it thoroughly, and you do it only when you absolutely have to.
“What will make you need to raise GST? Profligate spending and irresponsible, unsustainable plans. That is what will hurt and require you to raise taxes and GST.”

Screenshot of TNP article

Screenshot of TNP article

Besides attacking the WP, the PM also cast aspersions upon the financial promises of other opposition parties, noting that their manifestos had plans to distribute funds to various groups but did not elaborate much about where these funds would come from:

“So I think when you see a manifesto like that, that’s when you must ask, where’s the money coming from?”

Just over two years after the PAP won the last general elections, PM Lee confirmed at the PAP Convention last Sunday that higher taxes are inevitable and stressed that it is a matter of when and not if taxes will be hiked.

When claims that the government would raise taxes erupted in 2015, the Ministry of Finance (MOF) was another government party – besides the head of the PAP – that was quick to refute the claims, saying that they had no basis.

Posting a statement on the matter online then, MOF reiterated Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam’s earlier assertion that increased spending planned for the rest of the decade is sufficiently provided for by measures that the Government had already taken.

Today, the MOF released a new statement and said that PM Lee’s confirmation of a tax hike is “in line” with the DPM’s comments from 2015.

The Ministry said that there is enough revenue for this term of government but that since government spending has been increasing, making plans to finance such spending would “better ease in the needed measures, and to give our people and businesses some time to adjust.”

It added:

“This is in line with Prime Minister Lee’s speech at the PAP convention on Nov 19, 2017, where PM Lee said, ‘For this current term of Government, we have enough revenue’,” said MOF.
“Any decision to raise taxes will not be taken lightly. But necessary investments in the future are needed.
“The Government has to remain forward-looking, planning beyond this decade, and will study all options carefully, doing it with least impact on the less well-off and on Singapore’s economy.”

Netizens responding to MOF’s claims that there is no contradiction between the PM’s statement last weekend and the government’s stance in 2015 were incensed:

Netizens weren’t swayed by the PM’s reasons explaining the tax hike earlier this week and called on him to slash the high salaries ministers draw, instead of pushing the financial burden of increased spending to the people:

https://theindependent.sg.sg/incensed-netizens-condemn-high-ministerial-salaries-as-pm-lee-confirms-impending-tax-hike/

https://theindependent.sg.sg/tax-hike-is-inevitable-pm-lee-confirms/

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