Photo of Lawrence Wong from CNA

Despite having saved over S$8 billion for the scrapping of the High Speed Rail, Singapore’s Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong declared that GST must still increase:

“The prospect of the High-Speed Rail (HSR) project being cancelled and the Government’s announcement that the Goods and Services Tax (GST) would be raised in due course are two separate matters. The planned increase in GST was never meant to finance lumpy investments in infrastructure in the first place.”

The S$1.1 million-a-year PAP Minister said that the GST tax increase would not fund the several multi-billion dollar projects like Terminal 5, High Speed Rail, and the JB-Singapore Rapid Transit System Link. Minister Lawrence Wong said Singapore will instead borrow money to finance these projects:

“First, where possible, the Government will save ahead and set aside funding for such investments through initiatives like the Changi Airport Development Fund and the Rail Infrastructure Fund. Second, the Government will finance infrastructure through borrowing by Statutory Boards and Government-owned companies. This will apply to larger investments that can generate economic benefits over many years, like the Changi Terminal 5, the HSR and the JB-Singapore Rapid Transit System Link.”

The new statement by Minister Lawrence however contradicts with Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat’s Budget statement in Feb this year. Minister Heng Swee Keat said the GST has to increase to pay for the High Speed Rail:

“GST increase is necessary because even after exploring various options to manage our future expenditures through prudent spending, saving and borrowing for infrastructure, there is still a gap.”

Without giving any statistic, Minister Lawrence Wong then went on to lie that the GST has to increase because of Singaporeans:

“The main drivers for rising Government expenditure in recent years, and in the future, are healthcare, security and social spending. These are broad-based, structural increases in recurrent spending, so we have to raise recurrent revenues, of which the planned GST increase is one component, to pay for these ongoing needs year after year.”

When questioned how much expenditures were spent on the High Speed Rail so far, Minister Lawrence Wong again lied that revealing the figure would be “inappropriate”:

“It is not appropriate for me to highlight the estimated total expenditure on the HSR project at this time. Doing so could affect the behavior and pricing strategy of bidder.”

In a later session during Parliament, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan answered the same question revealing that S$250 million had been spent thus far.