Singapore’s Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat has been ranked second in a Hong Kong-based publication’s rankings of finance ministers in the Asia-Pacific region. He was positioned in the sixth place last year, according to a report by Todayonline.
Indonesia’s Dr Sri Mulyani Indrawati topped the ranking for the second consecutive year in the Finance Minister of the Year award by FinanceAsia. FinanceAsia praised Dr Sri Mulyani’s “laser-like focus” on increasing tax revenue. This was what distinguished her from her counterparts across Asia, the publication noted. Her bid to increase tax revenue seeks to reduce Indonesia’s dependence on commodity sales which often fluctuate depending on global prices.
FinanceAsia noted that Mr Heng “faces a delicate balancing act” and “has demonstrated a desire to increase Singapore’s general sales tax to offset higher spending on healthcare and support for the country’s elderly, yet he must also decide how to help keep the Lion City competitive in the long run.”
Heng had announced during the Budget statement in February the increase in Goods and Services Tax (GST) from 7 to 9 percent.
The timing of the tax hike “could prove to be a tough call”, said FinanceAsia, nothing that the Singapore economy is benefitting from the fact that the world economy is expanding “in a synchronised fashion for the first time since the global financial crisis”.
The publication also added that “while many of Asia’s finance ministers have struggled to take advantage of a favourable global and regional economic climate, (Mr Heng) has positioned his country well, while also making headway on the challenge of preparing for an ageing population.”