Photo of Heng Swee Keat from Straits Times

Despite after raising numerous taxes including the GST, Singapore’s Finance Minister complained to state media reporters that the government needs more money to fund more “priority projects”. The Minister did not explain what “priority projects” he was referring to, but it includes the multi-billion Terminal 5, which to-date have no price tag.

Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat claimed that the government need more money for the ageing population but did not explain how is the new airport Terminal 5 relevant to helping Singaporean elderly retire.

“The Ministry of Finance will focus on growing the economy and funding the priority projects of other ministries…Singapore’s expenditures would continue to rise because of growing infrastructure needs and an ageing population, which exerts pressure on health-care spending. We need to build new infrastructure. We need to renew our infrastructure. At the same time, we would like very much to support all our ministries, each of which has important priorities. Most of these will have to be funded. We have to look for ways and means of funding various initiatives and making sure we get good value for money.”

There are currently a number of billion-dollar projects in the pipeline, including upgrading works for existing train lines, new hospitals, a new airport terminal and a new facial recognition system with cameras on every street lamp post. Adding on to the billions of tax burdens is also the maintenance fees for the facilities. For the S$1 billion Garden By the Bay built in 2012, S$58 million was spent in maintenance each year.

Aside from exorbitant project spending, the Singapore government is also reckless in administration spending, with the PAP government drawing the world’s highest political salaries. The Singapore ministerial leadership requires S$53 million each year in salaries payment alone, excluding bonuses and other fringe benefits like free parking and bodyguards.

Singapore will be seeing the second phase of the 30% water tax increase in July. The GST will be increased from 7% to 9% by 2021, which would translate to about S$3.6 billion in increased taxes annually. Gas tariffs had also risen by 4.9% this year, along with carpark charges, electricity tariffs, school fees, satellite-based ERP system and national insurance.

The series of tax increases is likely to worsen income inequality, and the quality of life for the middle class and low income.

 

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