People of Singapore will be given enough notice ahead of tax hikes to make preparations of their own, said Senior Minister of State (Finance and Law) of Singapore Indranee Rajah while interacting with media persons on the sidelines of a dialogue session on the budget which will be presented next year.
About 70 people attended the Pre-Budget 2018 Conversation which was co-organised by the Ministry of Finance and governmental feedback platform Reach. Suggestions have also been invited from members of the public for the annual budget.
On the question of whether Goods and Services Tax (GST) would be raised next year, the Minister said, “As I’ve said before, we’re working on the ‘what’ and ‘when’. So, we’ll have to see. We’ll keep the public informed as and when we have arrived at a decision on that.”
Some days back, the Development Bank of Singapore (DBS) predicted in a research report that GST is likely to be raised from 7 to 9 per cent when the Budget statement is made next year.
Regarding whether she is concerned that it would be increasingly challenging for the Government to persuade Singaporeans of the need for higher taxes, Indranee said, “All governments face the same challenge. You have a range of things you need to do. How are you going to fund them. It is important for Singaporeans to know the Government’s direction.”
The Minister added, “In our case, we’ve always explained to people what our objectives are and how initiatives are going to be funded. We do that every year with each Budget. This will be no different.”
During the dialogue session, Singaporean people raised concerns about cyber security, care for senior citizens, and re-training of workers.
Sam Tan, chairman of Reach, while replying to the concerns of the people, said, “The Government does not raise taxes easily, and it takes a long-term view when making decisions whether it’s taxes, cyber security, infrastructure, there’s always a reason.”
While providing a glimpse on what is to come in the upcoming Budget, Indranee talked about several areas of focus including encouraging innovation and internationalisation for businesses, healthcare, and early childhood education.