The following is an excerpt from an article posted on 3 April 2011 on New Nation.
by Terence Lee/
Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) assistant treasurer Vincent Wijeysingha advocated a zero-rate GST for basic services like food so as to alleviate pressure from lower-income groups.
In response, finance minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam came out robustly in defense of the GST system, saying that most of the revenue generated from the GST comes from the top 40 percent of Singaporeans. The money collected is then given back to the poor through subsidies and handouts. He says that the poor get more from these handouts than the GST they pay.
On a related note, People’s Action Party (PAP) member-of-parliament Josephine Teo claims that the government’s Inclusive Growth programme would benefit over 20,000 low wage workers.
Vincent’s suggestion sounds interesting but I wonder how robust it is compared to the government’s existing measures? I also have my doubts about whether the PAP’s current policies are sufficient enough to tackle insufficient wages experienced by the poor.
For instance, while Workfare acts as supplementary income for low-wage workers, much of it goes to the CPF instead of to the worker’s pockets. It’s a pity that the idea of minimum wage was not discussed much.
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