Unable with the opposition voting against the GST increase, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat hit out insulting the Workers’ Party saying they are dishonest and irresponsible.
WP MP Pritam Singh had earlier explained that the government did not clarify any statistics or projections why would the GST increase be required, and hence the opposition is unable to support the GST increase.
To this, Finance Minister accused him of playing politics and questioned why does the MP has to know so much:
“I don’t understand why you want to create this aura that I must know everything before I can decide on anything. If I had taken that approach, if previous finance ministers had taken that approach that I must know every item of expenditure before I can support you, before I know how much to raise, we would have been in a serious deficit long ago.”
Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat was also slammed the alternative suggestions by WP MP Pritam Singh that the government should take to avoid raising GST:
“These are distractions. Mr Pritam Singh cannot be serious. Any serious-minded person will appreciate that not one of these is a viable alternative to a GST increase. They are distractions. Mr Low Thia Khiang asked us not to be distracted. Instead of taking a principled stand, Mr Pritam Singh would rather withhold his support for the GST increase by adopting a ‘wait-and-see’ posture. It is easy to fall back on politically expedient options and pretend that they will solve our long-term challenges. But this is a dishonest and irresponsible approach. If the Government were to do this, future generations of Singaporeans could easily end up in serious deficit. In that case, the nation would be having a very different conversation about its future.”
The PAP Minister devoted a good 40 minutes attacking the Workers’ Party in Parliament and continued:
“None of the opposition MPs who spoke during the budget debate had asked the Government to cut back on any specific item in the Budget this year, and instead urged it to do more to help the elderly and reduce inequality. I think the Workers’ Party should come clean to the people. Does the WP want the Government to increase healthcare or social spending? If yes, how does the WP propose to pay for the increase?”
Directing his attention at WP MP Low Thia Khiang, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat took issues with his criticisms describing the GST increase as a distraction to the Budget:
“I was puzzled that he characterised the GST debate as a distraction, and that he would rather debate this at election rallies.
The Workers’ Party MPs have been elected into Parliament. You are sitting in Parliament. Parliament is exactly the place to debate serious issues affecting our nation’s future.
“So I really hope that the Workers’ Party MPs, having run on a slogan of a First World Parliament, is not just using attractive election slogans, with no real intent to take your parliamentary responsibilities seriously. I hope that when the elections come around, the Workers’ Party will not turn around and use the GST to distract people from the longer-term issues that we face. These are serious long-term challenges that we should do our best to address and not take this as electioneering or as political play. We owe it to Singaporeans to do the right thing.”