PM Lee: Tax hike inevitable, but government must show Singaporeans its benefits
"Raising taxes is not a matter of whether, but when."
Raising taxes will be inevitable as Singapore goes full steam ahead to upgrade the economy, build world-class infrastructure and prepare for an ageing society, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
Government spending has gone up, and is expected to rise further in the days ahead, Mr Lee, who is also People's Action Party (PAP) secretary-general, told party members and activists at the PAP Convention yesterday.
"We have enough revenue for this current term of government. But our spending needs will grow, so (Finance Minister) Heng Swee Keat is right when he said that raising taxes is not a matter of whether, but when.
"Well before the time comes, we have to plan ahead, explain to Singaporeans what the money is needed for, and show how it will benefit everyone, young and old," said Mr Lee.
Mr Heng had broached the topic of tax hikes at a dialogue session last month.
In the past few years, the Government has been pumping in money to develop different schemes and programmes that will help enhance Singapore's competitiveness, while creating more opportunities and jobs for Singaporeans.
This includes a $4.5 billion Industry Transformation Programme, which provides support to firms and industries while driving innovation.
On the infrastructure end, additional MRT lines like the Thomson-East Coast Line are in the works to form a more connected and resilient train network. Other policies for childcare and the elderly will also require funds.
For these policies to work, Singaporeans must support and trust the PAP.
"They must know that the PAP cares about them, and is working to improve their lives," said Mr Lee.
But this does not mean the Government should shy away from making difficult decisions, he stressed.
"Even if people may not like the specific policy, we must convince them that we are doing it with good intentions, and for good reasons."