I received this on Whatsapp:
Let me break down why this doesn’t make sense:
Dear Prime Minister.
We are not against you. But at least listen fm us lower income families. No problem for high income families. Your budget makes no sense at all. I am not like one of these many lemmings on here that praise it and don’t know what its about. Can you care to explain the following:
1) If you have a budget surplus of almost $10 billion from last year, why are u still raising the GST?
2) Isn’t giving u $300 on one hand (bribing one with one’s own money) and taking it away on the other hand with a GST increase, rather meaningless?
Hello, the surplus is from market fluctuations. It’s the first time in years we have a sizable surplus. Even with it, we would still run a $5 billion deficit this year if it wasn’t for the returns from our reserves. So it’s really like striking 4D.
My understanding is every year the government spends more money than the revenue it collects. We have a structural deficit. Don’t believe go read the statements. It’s all there. But we get a surplus because we dip into the net income from our reserves. Income goes up and down. So not wise to take from there or based our future plans on investment returns.
What’s more, our expenditure this year is about $80 billion. Over the next decade, caring for our aging population will become more expensive. So we’ll spend a total of let’s say $1000 billion. The surplus is only 1% of that.
So not raising the GST would be like- Someone striking $100 in 4D today, spending everything right away, and also quitting their job. Even though they know their parents are old and will probably need $10,000 for healthcare in the next few years.
Another misconception is that GST falls more on the lower income. In fact, the top 40% of Singaporeans and foreigners combined paid 84.2% of GST collected in 2010. Plus, lower and middle income families will get extra subsidies when the GST rises.
Don’t forget also most of the lower and lower middle income don’t pay taxes at all. Only 45 per cent of Singaporeans pay income taxes. They take more out of the system than they put in.
3) Why are we spending billions $ on infrastructure like rail and roads when we have a zero population growth and almost negative birthrate? Who are we building these infrastructure for? To accommodate your target of 6.9 million population? So, we are spending Singaporean taxpayer money on infrastructure for foreigners?
Wa, MRT breakdown you complain. Want to spend to fix it you also complain. If you can fix it without spending a single cent, I will gladly elect you as PM. You may be the world’s first magician PM.
If we don’t build new infrastructure like new airport terminals and industrial clusters, our economy will stagnate. Young people will find it hard to get the kind of jobs they aspire to. Wages will stagnate- but because we import so many goods, the cost of living will not.
And the 6.9 million again. Government is not targeting this- they’re just planning for possible eventual growth. It’s like when getting married and buying a house, most people will get a slightly bigger one to plan for future children right? Instead of moving and renovating again when they need an extra room?
In fact government has tightened the inflow of foreigners significantly. The foreign workforce (excluding FDWs and construction) has only increased by 6,700 between 2015 and 2017, as opposed to 32,300 from 2013 to 2015. Small businesses like mine are already suffering and even closing down because of this!
4) Why is our defence budget 40% larger then our healthcare budget, more then $4 billion more. To buy weapons and equipment to fight who? Name our enemy, Mr. Prime Minister. With an aging population, healthcare should far surpass the defence budget, not the other way round
Seriously “Name our enemy”? If we were weak, you think our much larger neighbours won’t want to annex us? Malaysia wouldn’t just grab Pedra Branca? Indonesia wouldn’t make good on their threats to ban Changi flights from their airspace? What about China trying to grab the Spratly Islands so close to us? How do you think the Malaysians and Indonesians will negotiate with us on territorial issues if our defence was weak on those years? You think they invite us to sit down nicely for tea? Grow up!
5) Increasing the education budget by giving more edusave bursaries to our student is like giving crumbs to us. Your govt is giving full scholarships to foreign students, why can’t we get that deal instead?
Public scholarships for foreign students come with bonds to work with a Singapore-registered company. The number is small and they’re competitive- if you and I were foreigners, I’m not sure we would qualify!
And yet, as locals, all of us get subsidies, and all needy students can get bursaries regardless of their results. That’s because the government spends much more on local students.
These scholarships do more than attract and retain foreign talent. They build goodwill with neighbouring countries, help keep our campuses world-class, and give many students in developing countries a leg up in life. Why do the same people who ask Singapore to take in refugees oppose this?
6) If u need more money, instead of taxing the poor with a GST increase, why don’t u raise the tax rate for the high earners (those earning over $1 million a year). I am sure there are thousands of such people, including all your Cabinet Ministers and many MPs. If you tax them more, u surely can avoid the GST.
Its daylight robbery when the common people struggle with low wages due to a lack of minimum wages whereas a minister can earn up to 26.5 months of wages in a year – where is the justice?
Maybe GST is raised to fund such obscene pay out?
Regarding Ministers’ pay. When Parliament was reviewing it, not many people know the WP actually proposed a higher package than what the PAP did eventually. Why? Maybe they understand we can’t reduce the pay too much, if we want to attract capable people and keep them incorruptible.
Overall, our top income tax rate is already 22%, 5 percentage points higher than Hong Kong. And the US just cut corporate taxes dramatically. So if we raise our wealth taxes too much, businesses and rich people can simply relocate, either physically or on paper. Guess who loses out? Our tax revenue and the poor people who need welfare.
The “common people” you speak of- 55% of Singaporeans don’t pay any income tax. For every $1 in taxes the poor pay, they get back $6 in subsidies. For every $1 paid in taxes by a middle income family, they get back $2 in subsidies (higher than “egalitarian utopia” Finland by the way). For those in the top 10 per cent, for every $1 they pay, they get back 20 cents. There’s simply no proof that our system taxes the poor more.
This doesn’t read like a real message from a lower-income family. There are no details on how the family will be affected. It just recycles the trite half-truths the opposition trots out to make people angry.
And of course, if someone wants to reach the PM, they should send him an email! Sending a Whatsapp to random people won’t help. But of course the aim was never to reach the PM. It was to lie to people, make people angry, and have the message go viral on Whatsapp. Very irresponsible if you ask me!