The Singapore Democratic Party, in a statement on its website on Wednesday (Feb 12), has called on the Government not to increase the Goods and Services Tax (GST).
The GST, which was introduced in 1994, has risen through the years. Beginning at 3 per cent, the tax was raised to 4 per cent in 2003 and 5 per cent in 2004. In 2007, it was increased to 7 per cent.
According to straitstimes.com, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat, who is now also Deputy Prime Minister, announced in February 2018 that the increase from 7 per cent to 9 per cent would take place between 2021 and 2025, depending on Singapore’s economic condition, its rate of spending growth, and its tax buoyancy.
Mr Heng said that it was “necessary because even after exploring various options to manage our future expenditures through prudent spending, saving and borrowing for infrastructure, there is still a gap”.
According to the Ministry of Finance, the GST “is a tax on domestic consumption”. The “multi-stage tax which is collected at every stage of the production and distribution chain” is paid when people spend on either goods or services. The GST applies to “goods and services supplied in Singapore by any taxable person in the course or furtherance of a business” and also to “goods imported into Singapore by any person”.
In its statement, the SDP also called on Singaporeans to maintain a united front in efforts to manage the COVID-19 outbreak. “We acknowledge and appreciate the hard work of public health experts and recognise that this will be a trying few weeks ahead for all of us,” the party said. “This is also an added reason why the SDP is calling on the PAP (People’s Action Party) not to raise the GST after the next elections as announced.”
The SDP pointed out the impact of the outbreak on Singapore saying: “Our economy will take a hit as global trade and commerce is negatively affected by the virus outbreak.”
“The Government says that it anticipates business and consumer confidence to be affected in the future as the situation is expected to last for some time,” the party said. “This being the case, it would help Singaporeans if they did not have to pay more GST and other taxes which will crimp spending. Going forward, Singaporeans will need extra cash in their pockets to tide over the uncertain economic period.”
The SDP added: “There was already little justification for the Government to increase the GST before the coronavirus outbreak. Now with the adverse economic conditions ahead, it is all the more inconceivable for the PAP to proceed with its plans to increase the GST to 9 per cent.”
Mr Heng is scheduled to present the Budget Statement in Parliament on Feb 18. /TISG