The PAP-led government says it is necessary to raise GST so that it has more money to spend on healthcare and social services.
But if it is truly concerned about Common Singaporeans, then it would not be proposing to raise GST at a time when most are suffering.
Low and middle-income Singaporeans will feel bear the brunt of this tax increase.
Across the world, food prices and prices of commodities such as oil are going up.
Added to these, transport and housing costs are also set to rise.
At markets and kopitiams, hawkers are already raising prices.
Meanwhile, Singaporeans are still grappling with restrictive measures imposed by the government due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Businesses are struggling, and more Singaporeans are moonlighting as gig economy workers, or even have to do gig work full-time, just to make ends meet.
Hiking GST will rub salt further in their wounds.
The government must not be allowed to have its cake and eat it.
Especially, since there are better ways to raise funds than to heighten the burden on Singaporeans.
We proposed these in our most recent manifesto, released in 2020.
Firstly, extravagant government spending must be cut.
Billions of dollars have been spent on fancily-dressed up government projects such as the new Ng Teng Fong General Hospital.
Yet, we can’t tide over a crisis without crying about the lack of hospital beds and overworked staff.
Financial prudence must prevail, and the money saved can be channelled to more practical uses.
Secondly, we proposed increasing the use of the Net Investment Returns Contribution (NIRC), which stands at almost $20 billion for FY2021, by an additional 1 to 5 percent for spending on our people and social infrastructure.
This NIRC is money generated from the use of our Reserves – in other words, income generated from the use of Singaporeans’ savings.
Is it unreasonable to ask the government to draw on this income to help us weather the current storm?
The SDA thoroughly opposes a GST hike at this stage.
If the government must raise GST to pursue its growth-at-all-cost strategy, then it should have the decency to remove GST on basic goods and services.
Such items would include food items like rice and cooking oil, medication from pharmacies, and water and sanitation for public housing-dwellers.
This would at least mitigate the rising cost burden on low and middle-income earners, who are already struggling on all fronts to cope with inflation and hikes in indirect taxes.
Singaporeans are not economic digits.
The government should not build on our suffering to further its vanity-seeking ventures.
It is time to put the welfare of Common Singaporeans first.
Singapore Democratic Alliance