Photo of Lee Hsien Loong from CNA

When questioned by media reporters over Singapore’s GST increase, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong defended his unpopular proposal saying that he has given Singaporeans “a lot of notice” to “live with a new tax”:

“We have given a lot of notice. There is time to explain, and there is time to work out how exactly we will make sure that Singaporeans are given the right support in order to be able to live with a new tax.”

The Singapore PM refused to comment on Malaysia’s removal of GST, which is currently at 6%. Singapore’s GST will be increased from the current 7% to 9% in 2021.

Lee Hsien Loong said that Singaporeans “trust” him and that he has a “very good case” why the GST must be raised. The Singapore dictator said his only focus is to “execute the raise properly”:

“Raising a tax is never an easy thing to do… Each case is different, the circumstances in every country is different but every time you want to raise a tax, it is never a light matter. It is never an easy decision to make. You have to work very hard to make sure you have a very good case to be able to explain to voters why you are doing this, what you are using the money for and to persuade them that you know what you are doing and they can trust you. Then you must implement it well to make sure that it goes in smoothly. That the burden is carried fairly.

That people who are needy, who are low income, there is help given to them, because they are the ones who will be most hurt by new impositions. You have to make sure it is all properly done. It does not mean you cannot do it, but you have to be able to focus on it and to execute it properly. I think that is what we will have to do.”

The PAP government is currently in debt, and having to resort to borrowing to fund two mega projects, Terminal 5 and Tuas Mega Port. This is also the first time Singapore is in debt after decades of financial surplus.

There are no budget estimations for the new airport and the new port, even though the Transport Ministry said it would be “in the range of tens of billions”. but PM Lee Hsien Loong has been raising existing taxes and imposing new ones to source for the money.