Source: Channel NewsAsia screengrab video.

Lee Hsien Loong: Raising taxes is not a matter of whether but when

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in his delivery of his speech during the People’s Action Party (PAP) convention held on Sunday at Big Box in Jurong, said that raising taxes is not a matter of whether but when.

Speaking to 2000 PAP activists, he said that the investment for economy and infrastructure and the spending on social services and safety nets are all necessary and worthwhile.

“There are a vote of confidence in Singapore in the future, just like our forefathers have saved and invested to build what this generation are enjoying today,” he stated.

So he said that to this generation, “We must plant trees in order our sons and daughters and their sons and daughters will be able to enjoy the shade.”

He then noted that the investment and social spending are costly and we have to make them that we afford them.

“Government spending has gone up and we look ahead, it will rise further. So we have to stretch our dollars and make every dollar count,” he stressed.

For this current Government, he said that they have enough revenue.

“But, our spending needs will grow. So, Heng Swee Kat was right when he said that raising taxes is not a matter of whether but when,” he said.

He then stressed that the Government needs to prepare for the raise, saying, “Well, before that time comes, we have to plan ahead, explain to Singaporeans what the money is needed for and how the money we earn and we spend will benefit everyone, young and old.”

This potentially means that Singaporeans can expect a tax hike pretty soon just like when PM Lee announced that there is a need to relook at the Elected Presidency. The matter will be brought up in Parliament and passed through without much resistance due to the overwhelming number of PAP Members of Parliament.

Many commenters took to the comment section of news reports to critise unofficial announcement of a tax hike by the Prime Minister.

Some took issues with the high pay of the top civil servants and ministers, asking if the Government will cut off salary of the ministries to reduce the expenditure of the government.

Jezsline Cheow wrote, “Instead of raising taxes, please cut the salaries of all ministers including the president by 40%. After the cut, the ministers here are still the most top paid in the world. Please stop sucking blood from your citizens, we have nothing left except bones and a broken soul.”

Tan Ben Jornee wrote, “Salary cut first then we discuss.”

Alvin Peh wrote, “Says the country leader of the highest paid cabinet. Top 20 highest salaried politicians of the world plus up to 18-23 months bonuses not including incentives and perks. Even US president and China president is no where near such level of corr. Instead of finding ways to suck from the citizens they should however be thinking ways to grow the economy and create employment and fixing transportation issues. Ironically they find fixing the oppositions a higher priority.”

Chua Heng Da wrote, “Why dun u cut ur pay instead? Or only raise taxes on the super rich only instead? Your indefnite raising of tax is straining the middle class who forms up the most important pillars of Singapore. They just make enough to survive and yet is not receiving enough support as the poors.”

Liew Rui Qink wrote, “Can you stop increasing the minister’s salary and cut down the salary. It will help perhaps 15-30 percent of the GDP contributions. We are fine contributing the taxes as long as each of these so called government officials are fairly paid like most senior management jobs out there. In government service, it supposed to be a calling to serve people, not to model it like a profit centre.

I just want to share that a lot of companies are letting go their senior management or staff and rather employ fresh graduates or foreigners to reduce their expenses. A lot of senior people are downgrading and striving to survive in this high cost societies. Please evaluate the income bracket before you increase taxes. The bulk majority of locals in senior positions are retrenched if not asked to leave for some stupid reason. I feel sad for them.”

Alson Hun wrote, “If you still have a little bit of conscience in you, instead of raising taxes, please take a pay cut in your salaries. The kpi of some of your ministry isn’t up to expectation and they should take a pay cut. The cost of living standard in Singaporeans is getting higher and higher.”


Some stated that different moves should be taken instead as many middle and low-class Singaporeans are dying to earn a living.

Hilal Lal wrote, “They should revise the tax not raising up. Low income and middle class are struggling to cope with the daily expenses plus monthly bills. A vote of confidence?!”

Chua Heng Da wrote, “Why don’t you cut your pay instead? Or only raise taxes on the super rich only instead? Your indefinite raising of tax is straining the middle class who forms up the most important pillars of Singapore. They just make enough to survive and yet is not receiving enough support as the poors.”

Mr Kiong Sham noted that citizens are already paying high taxes, but in the form of indirect taxes, “That’s the problem with PAP. They give you $100 and say the government spent millions and they take it back from you in so many form of indirect taxes. COE, 30 percent water price hike, penalties for this and that. The world thinks that Singapore has one of the lowest taxes rates but most people don’t realize we pay a lot of indirect taxes.

Thomas Wong wrote, “Stop taxing the poor and the retired with GST increase. Increase the income tax of those earning above a quarter of a million dollars.”

Noordin Mohd wrote, “Liao lo; habis lo; we have to pay so much for food, commodities, housing, water and electricity consumption, etc, etc and now the icing on the cake – tax. Next on line will be the GST. In this case the Government is taxing you until your pants drop. Once he opened his mouth the increase will be inevitable.”

Some asked the government to stop building unnecessary stuff.

Muhd Hali Ridzkin wrote, “It is never enough for you guys, isn’t it. Everyday the low ground people are suffering to meet the daily needs. If indeed you have a lot of money stop building unnecessary stuffs.”

Ken Ho wrote, “I think the government should look into how monies are spent instead. Beautified my estate blocks with useless enhancement without practical use and now tearing all down because of a panel that dropped off the roof. There are at least 30 blocks.
Paved a new road after completion of circle line only to close it in less than a year to construct the DTL.
Building and tearing down bus stop at the same spot at least 3 times perhaps within 5 years.”

On the other hand, some people agreed with the suggested tax raises.

Aravin wrote, “Don’t know why so many people complaining, Singapore’s income tax is already very low, and only the rich people will be affected the most since they are they ones taxed heavily compared to those who make $40,000 and people a year and pay $550 in taxes and even those earning $120,000 only pay 7950 in taxes which is just 6.6 percent. Really how many Singaporeans actually make more than $120,000 a year. Definitely not the majority.”

Jason Tan wrote, “With more social support program, it’s natural to increase the tax. Not going to be popular but a necessary thing to do. Only a strong government dare to take such move. If we have others, no one will dare to do it and the country will slowly gone bankrupt.”