Whether you agree or disagree, like or hate him, former NMP Calvin Cheng speaks his mind, mostly rather unabashedly.
And being the vocal and opinionated political commentator he is, we did kind of expect to hear from him in the wake of the 2018 Budget announcement.
Sure enough, he didn't disappoint, and the first thing he talked about, from two posts he made on his Facebook page, was about none other than the GST hike.
1. Show proof that we need GST hike
In his post, he asks:
- What will happen during the specified period of 2021-2025 to trigger the lack of money that requires us to contribute more in GST?
- Can we have spending estimates that show the deficit that will arise as a consequence of not raising GST?
And sure enough, these things weren't quite spelled out by Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat in his speech, even though he explained at length that "we should not borrow for recurrent spending", and "even after exploring various options to manage our future expenditures through prudent spending, saving and borrowing for infrastructure, there is still a gap".
"... in the next decade, between 2021 to 2030, if we do not take measures early, we will not have enough revenues to meet our growing needs."
Taken together with this year's massive S$9.6 billion surplus (and S$700 million ang bao for all Singaporeans aged 21 and up), Cheng points out the dissonance in messaging from the government: are we or are we not in a good fiscal position? Shouldn't we then be saving on the ang bao money for future anticipated expenditure?[related_story]
2. Time to think of ways to tax the wealthy
Cheng's second post also shows some useful insight: Why not find ways to tax people who make money off investments?
He praised the decision on the government's part to impose an additional buyer's stamp duty on properties valued at above S$1 million, noting that not enough attention has been given to wealth inequality here — not to be confused with income inequality.
"Most wealthy people do not make money from salaries and employee remuneration but through investments. Yet, we don't have a capital gains tax.
We should explore more ways to tax the wealthy in Singapore (as opposed to just high income earners) who have chosen to make Singapore their home because of the stability, peace and living environment taxes pay for. This could supplement any increase in GST or other taxes on the average Singaporean, which should be put off as long as possible."
Read his second post in full here:
Top photo via Calvin Cheng's Facebook page