Singapore

Being upfront about GST hike shows integrity of Government: DPM Heng

The Government will announce a support package to help Singaporeans cope with the GST hike

Raising the goods and services tax (GST) rate is an unpopular move, and the Government could have waited for the general election to be over before announcing it. But that would not be the honest thing to do, said Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat.

Speaking at the People's Action Party (PAP) convention at the Singapore Expo yesterday, Mr Heng said many party activists had asked him not to talk about the move any more, as the elections are coming.

"But if I don't bring it up, the opposition parties definitely will - so it's better that you hear it directly from me," he added. "The responsible thing to do is to be upfront, and tell the people that it will happen. This is what integrity means. We don't hide from difficult truths."

Mr Heng said that being upfront also helps people and businesses plan ahead for the hike in GST from 7 per cent to 9 per cent, which will take place sometime between 2021 and 2025. "You have my commitment that we will help Singaporeans cope with the change," he said.

The GST Voucher, a permanent scheme, will be enhanced when the tax rate goes up, he said, adding he will give more details of the GST support package in his Budget speech next year.

"More will be given to those with less, because this is fair," he added, saying this is the first time the Government is announcing the GST support package in advance.

He stressed that the GST support package is not an "election goodie", as it will be given only when the GST is increased during the next term of government.

In his speech, Mr Heng outlined various measures that the PAP's fourth-generation leadership team have introduced to continue investing in and supporting Singaporeans, and to create new opportunities.

Among other things, he cited changes to the Primary School Leaving Examination scoring system and introducing subject-based banding in all secondary schools. The retirement and re-employment ages are also being raised.

Meanwhile, Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing is driving Singapore's industry transformation and economic restructuring efforts, while labour chief Ng Chee Meng is supporting workers on this journey. Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli has embarked on zero-waste efforts and is promoting urban farming and renewable energy.

"The PAP will not leave anyone behind," Mr Heng said to applause."As long as you are willing and able to work hard, we will support you to make a better life for yourself and your family. This has been the PAP's promise to each generation."

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