Ahead of his first annual Budget statement as Finance Minister, Lawrence Wong has released a short video mostly about one topic -- the necessity of raising the Goods and Services Tax.
The video, which was shared on his Facebook page, is under two minutes and features Wong speaking directly into the camera as dramatic music swells.It starts with a personal anecdote, as Wong makes a connection between a family lesson and government policy.
"When I was growing up, my mother taught me the importance of financial prudence, to live within our means and take care of those around us. These values continue to guide me, and I'm sure they resonate with many of you," he said.
Need to invest
Wong then said that Singapore is at a "critical turning point" and is still dealing with the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, there is still a need to invest more in "our people" and "our social infrastructure".
"The GST increase will help generate the revenues we need for this purpose. The additional GST revenue will go towards supporting our growing healthcare needs and enable us to better take care of our seniors."
Cost of living concerns
Wong said he recognised many Singaporeans are concerned about the rising cost of living.
Therefore, he said there will be a "comprehensive set of measures" in place to cushion the impact of the raised GST on lower-income and middle-income households and also retirees.
Wong gave the following example:
"Take the example of a couple earning S$5,000 a month with two children. They will receive around S$6,500 in benefits under the Assurance Package. That works out to about 10 times the extra GST they have to pay each year."
Wong added that the government will "permanently enhance" the GST voucher scheme to better support lower-income families, on top of these transitionary measures.
Wong will be making his Budget statement on Feb. 18 at 3:30pm.
It will be accessible via social media, TV and radio.
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