Lee Hsien Loong at a loss of words

After having a good week digesting the accounts and proposals of Budget 2018, I am afraid that Singaporeans have been taken for a ride yet again. If one reads only the 151st-ranking state media Straits Times, it is hard not to feel the disconnect between knowing he has to pay more taxes and yet on paper there is a record surplus. It is equally as difficult to understand if the government has been indeed prudent and responsible, as they claimed, when it has to resort to borrowing and raising taxes.

Simply dissect the Budget into what they say against what they do, we can have a better grasp of what the disconnect is about:

Fact What should happen What actually happened (the Disconnect)
Huge surplus of S$9.6 billion Lesser tax burden on Singaporeans.
Return the surplus to the people.
Multiple tax raises and new taxes imposed.
Need to borrow more money.
GST increased Relieve the burden on the poor Corporate tax rebates doubled from 20% to 40%
Ageing population Encourage birth rate.
Return CPF to enable retirement.
Nothing.
Healthcare Increase subsidies. Nothing.
Increasing expenditures Reduce Ministerial salaries.
Austerity measures.
Increase taxes.

Based off the table above, work backwards and the picture isn’t pretty:

Fact (actions taken) What is said to be important What is actually happening
(Explanation to the disconnect)
Multiple tax raises and new taxes imposed.
Need to borrow more money.
Huge surplus of S$9.6 billion Singapore is in debt, S$9.6 billion is insufficient to meet the debt.
Corporate tax rebates doubled from 20% to 40% GST increased GST is increased to pay corporations.
Nothing. Ageing population Ageing population is not an issue.
Nothing. Healthcare Healthcare is not an issue.
Increase taxes. Increasing expenditures Existing tax revenues is unsustainable, expenditures running out of control.
  1. Singapore is in debt, and S$9.6 billion isn’t enough to cover, and this is why there is a need for new taxes, tax raises and borrowing.
  2. Corporations are the sole beneficiaries of the Budget.
  3. Ageing population and healthcare are just convenient excuses to justify tax increases.
  4. Tax revenues are insufficient to pay for yearly expenses. Case in point, due to poor planning, the Transport Ministry projected a 54% increase spending in a single year when it should have planned and saved for it a few years before.

The disconnect actually now makes sense when you start equating the ruling party government as a despicable regime that employs fake news and shenanigans to distract people from the truth. It would have been harmless propaganda but unfortunately, the comforting lies and fake news fabricated by the state media are getting dangerous – the dangers of accepting dishonest and greedy liars as leadership. Such dishonesty will pervade throughout the government organs, and eventually, if not already happening, election results will be fixed.

Alex Tan
STR Editor