PAP MPs emphasise helping most vulnerable in society through Budget 2023's progressive tax & subsidy measures

They affirmed the importance of government support to tide vulnerable Singaporeans through a time of high inflation.

Sulaiman Daud | Ruth Chai | February 22, 2023, 08:52 PM

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During the Budget debate on Feb. 22, various PAP Members of Parliament chose to emphasise the progressive nature of Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong's Budget, especially where taxation and subsidies are concerned.

This, they said, was key to ensuring that those with the most can help the most vulnerable in society.

Budget gives households a lift to tide through high inflation: Liang Eng Hwa

Bukit Panjang MP Liang Eng Hwa highlighted the progressive and sustainable aspects of Budget 2023.

Namely, how the government has implemented and increased measures to lessen the burden of inflation and the rise in Goods and Service Tax (GST) for those most vulnerable.

He said Budget 2023 gives Singaporean households a major lift to tide through a period of high inflation and defray the impact of higher GST rates, naming the Assurance Package, Cost-of-Living Special Payments and increased CDC vouchers as examples of measures the government has implemented.

Taxes on property, cars

Liang cited the higher marginal Buyer Stamp Duty for higher-value properties and the upward adjustment of the Additional Registration Fee for luxury cars.

"The higher marginal buyer stamp duty for higher value properties and the upward adjustments of the ARF is very much in keeping with our approach to steepen the progressivity of our tax structure, where the better off contribute more," Liang said.

Progressive Wage Model measures to take effect: Xie Yao Quan

Jurong MP Xie Yao Quan also spoke about wages, and said the spending power of Singaporeans must grow faster than inflation, especially for the broad middle and most importantly for the lowest-wage workers.

This is so that cost of living concerns can be mitigated. Several measures under the Progressive Wage Model (PWM), which benefits lower-income workers, will start kicking in this year, Xie said.

This will give wages at the bottom a "sharp uplift" over the next few years.

"For a cook in a food service F&B outlet, monthly gross wage should be at least S$2,050, starting from this March (and) going up to at least S$2,380 in March 2025," he said.

All should do our part: Xie

The PWM should grow wages at the bottom faster than prices rise, so that low-wage workers will eventually get higher real wages.

Xie also emphasised the importance of "sharing in the burden" of higher prices that may be brought about by PWM.

"It is spread out across all of us in order to support higher wages for a segment at the bottom. So I think we can and should all do our part and pay a little bit more in order to help those who are impacted the most, more than the rest of us by higher cost of living. This must be a key part of our social compact."

Those who have the most should carry the heaviest tax burdens: Seah Kian Peng

Marine Parade MP Seah Kian Peng also touched upon helping the most vulnerable in society.

In his speech, Seah said while fiscal prudence was good, Budget 2023's "high focus on redistribution", especially for the most vulnerable, shows there are indeed "free lunches" for those who need them.

He cited the Assurance Package payouts, the increase in housing grants and subsidies for the elderly to demonstrate that "we are not slaves to the market".

Seah added that the Budget "clearly shows" the progressive element, both in tax and subsidy, remains core to the government's financing philosophy.

"And this is because of the political origins of the PAP government, born of a socialist beginning, that those who have the most should carry the heaviest tax burdens in order to benefit those who have the least," he said.

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Top photo via Unsplash.