Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat in his speech at the Straits Times Global Outlook Forum 2018 on Tuesday (5 December), said that Singapore must make sure government spending remains sustainable even as needs grow and it becomes tougher to raise revenue as the country ramps up investment in key areas – such as defence and economic development – to develop an adaptable and innovative economy, nurture a caring and strong society and keep the country secure and resilient amid the “unpredictable and complex changes” ahead.

Mr Heng said, “This is about staying responsible and spending within our means. As expenditure increases and revenue growth slows, we must think of ways to manage expenditures and raise revenues.”

The Minister stressed that the ability of the Government to sustain its current spending, tax and other policies in the long run without threatening government solvency or defaulting on its liabilities or promised expenditures, which also means the country must ready herself for revenue risks in light of technological changes and evolving business models.

“Our system must remain pro-growth. Our overall system of taxes and transfers must remain fair and progressive. We must keep our revenue base diversified,” he added.

Mr Heng noted that in the coming years, Singapore will have to invest more in building an adaptable economy, a strong society and a secure home, saying, “These are all major investments for the long term – major investments in our people, and in our future.”

He then stressed that the country’s success in making these preparations for the future depends on “whether we have the means to put our visions and values into action”.

The Minister said that good governance remains crucial in the private, public and people sectors, saying, “We need to maintain a high level of trust, and do so by communicating our considerations, our challenges and our plans frankly and honestly.”

“The consequences if we fail to do so are severe – loss of trust, a divided people, a society that turns inwards from the world and loses its ability to adapt and innovate,’ he added.

During a question-and-answer session, Mr Heng said he would be “very cautious about making statements about how big our reserves are”, when asked about whether to raise taxes because of fiscal prudence instead of using Singapore’s reserves.

“Because at the end of the day, having the reserves gives a long-term stability to our economy and gives us the means to be able to weather a crisis in ways in which many other countries cannot, and increasingly in a world which is more uncertain, I think we better have more firepower than less,” he said.

“In fact when the economy had a downturn, we used the reserves to provide for that buffer. So I say never take it for granted. And if I can, I’d rather leave something for the future generations that their future is more secure,” he added.

The Minister then noted that fifteen years from now, it is going to be a completely different demographic in Singapore.

“If we don’t prepare for that I think we will come to regret it and I want to make sure for whatever I can, I will do the responsible thing,” he stressed.

Mr Heng’s speech on increasing the country’s revenue follows the sentiment of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong who in his delivery of speech during the People’s Action Party (PAP) convention held on Sunday (19 November) at Big Box in Jurong, said that raising taxes is not a matter of whether but when.

Mr Lee 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.”

Since Mr Lee’s speech, the mainstream media has pushed out ideas via commentaries and reports that a hike in the Goods and Service Tax (GST) will be the likely way forward.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
You May Also Like

No immediate plans to develop Clementi Forest; but it will remain classified for residential use: Minister Desmond Lee

The Clementi Forest will remain classified for residential use, though there are…

黄国光帖文澄清哺乳疑云 公交枢纽将为妈妈们增设护理室

交通部指出,政府将在所有的新巴士转乘站和综合交通枢纽,包括新地铁转乘站设立护理室,为产妇们提供哺乳的地点。 交通部长许文远昨日(3月26日)在国会上,是针对国会议员黄国光提出的相关问题做出以上回应,后者也对有关的答复感到高兴,而在脸书上作出分享。 他向妈妈们保证,她们能在公共场所、公共巴士和地铁上,毫无掩饰地进行哺乳。 学校将设立护理室 黄国光表示,他非常赞成和支持母亲哺乳,并欢迎妈妈们在公共场所内毫不犹豫地哺乳,而教育部也将确保在未来三年内,为所有学校都会设有哺乳护理设备。 “教育部将确保在未来三年内,假所有学校,即高等学府、大学、理工学院和工艺教育学院内设置副乳设施。此外还为妈妈们提供储存母乳的冰箱。” 针对许多妇女对SMRT公司呼吁,在进入地铁站前先进行哺乳感到担忧一事,黄国光在国会中提出有关的问题,交通部表示他们将建议公共交通业者在其网站上做出澄清,以免妈妈们误会不被允许在该处哺乳。 “我将此事带到国会,交通部表示将建议公交业者在官网上,或在问答环节中做出澄清,以免妈妈们以为他们不被允许哺乳。” 黄国光指出,他也询问内政部,是否制定任何法规来禁止母亲们公开哺乳。 “没法律禁母亲公共场合哺乳” 新加坡内政部兼国家发展部高级政务次长孙雪玲指出,虽然在公共场合衣着猥亵暴露是刑事犯罪,但是没有任何法律严格禁止母亲在公共场合哺乳。“不雅暴露着装和在公共场合裸露是刑事犯罪,但在公共场所哺乳的母亲不太可能属于这个类型,警方会查明每起案件的具体实施和情况后才确定是否犯罪。” 黄国光随后要求孙雪玲澄清,如果母亲在公共场合毫无遮掩地哺乳,是否会遭受起诉时,后者强调有关举动并非违法。“除非引起法律和秩序问题,否则警方不会干预。”…

Great Eastern pledges S$1 million support package to help customers who are affected by COVID-19

Last Friday (14 Feb), leading insurer Great Eastern announced that it is…

Netizens criticise the PAP’s elitist mindset after candidate Fahmi Aliman made a remark over helping senior “upgrade from dishwasher to cleaner”

A People’s Action Party (PAP) candidate  was criticized by the netizens over…