Despite the Goods and Services Tax (Amendment) Bill being passed in Parliament on Nov 7, the Workers’ Party, which voted against it, has once again called the upcoming GST hike “irresponsible” and underlined its alternatives in a Facebook post on Wednesday (Nov 15).
“In Parliament last week, The Workers’ Party MPs voted NO to the amendments enshrining the Government’s proposed GST increases. In the current inflationary environment, it is irresponsible to hike GST. We reiterated that our proposed alternatives would raise the necessary revenue while allowing continued reserves accumulation.
We had argued for these alternatives previously in Parliament as well as in the lead article for the latest edition of the Hammer newsletter,” it said. The WP included infographics outlining why it objects to the GST increase, starting from the points raised in a speech last week by Sengkang GRC MP Louis Chua, who had said that in 2019, when the decision to raise the GST to 9 per cent was mooted, the situation was completely different.
“There was no Covid. Commodity prices are half of what they are today. Inflation rates are 1/10th of what they are today,” the MP said, adding that the timing of the hike could not be any worse, and that to proceed with it would be irresponsible.
Like Mr Chua, fellow Sengkang MP Assoc Prof Jamus Lim, pointed out that it would be hard to perceive a situation where a GST rise would not add to inflation.
The WP MPs also underlined that in the past year, food costs have gone up by 6.9 per cent on average, while utilities have gone up by 16 per cent. Electricity, in particular, is up by 26 per cent.
They have proposed temporarily exempting these categories of essential goods and services from the hike.
“Do we really want to fan the flames of inflation, and contribute an additional unnecessary one percentage point increase in the cost of living?” Mr Chua had asked in his speech.
Earlier this year, the WP explained its alternatives to the GST hike, including corporate and wealth taxes.
It has also pointed out that these alternatives to the hike will not “slay the golden goose” that is Singapore’s reserves.
Ruling party MP Sitoh Pin Yin, however, said that WP’s alternatives would act as “analgesia for an extended period of time” as opposed to PAP’s approach, which is “to keep the country alert t dangers and challenges, while we give relief to those who are suffering more as we forge ahead to difficult waters.”
He was answered by WP MP Leon Perera (Aljunied GRC), who said that if Mr Sitoh would also agree then “that the support package is also an anesthetic” and that he is suggesting that “it’s better to have pain because no pain, no gain.” /TISG
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