Singapore — In response to a comment by the People’s Action Party’s Chan Chun Sing during an online Mandarin dialogue session broadcast on Zaobao.sg on Thursday (July 2), Workers’ Party chief Pritam Singh has urged the Government to make clear its revenue and expenditure projections for the rest of the decade so that Singaporeans can properly assess whether the increase in Goods and Services Tax (GST) is necessary.
In 2018, the PAP mentioned plans for increasing the GST from the current 7 per cent to 9 per cent between 2022 and 2025.
Mr Chan had previously questioned the WP’s plans to foot the bill for proposals in its manifesto, including its objection to an increase in GST.
Speaking to reporters at a walkabout for Punggol West Single-Member Constituency (SMC) with candidate Tan Chen Chen, Mr Singh said: “The hike is a jump from 7 per cent to 9 per cent and we believe that, number one, the Government has to make clear its revenue-expenditure projections for the rest of the decade before the public can actually make a good assessment of whether the hike is necessary.”
He also mentioned that during a parliamentary debate on the planned GST increase, WP Members of Parliament had asked whether there were other possible sources of revenue to be considered.
“Now I think there is a view out there where it is alleged that the WP wants to raid the reserves and so forth. But if we look back in 2006, how much of the Net Investment Returns Contribution (NIRC) did Singapore use? I think it was about S$2 billion at that point,” he said. “Fast forward to today, in about 15 years, they are using about S$17 billion or S$18 billion every year.”
The NIRC refers to the investment returns on Singapore’s reserves which supplement the annual Budget and form the biggest contributor to Government revenue.
“So what happens as society evolves? You have to look at ways of how you can support your people better and address issues that are very central to them, like the cost of living,” he said.
Mr Singh added that introducing Temasek Holdings into the NIRC scheme in 2016 slowed the growth of the reserves.
“So I think those were some of the points that were brought up previously already in Parliament. Even before we talk about what Mr Chan said yesterday, I think these are some of the issues for Singaporeans to think about,” he said. /TISG