The Budget 2018 has been passed in Parliament on Thursday with a majority of votes casted by Members of Parliament from the People’s Action Party.
For the public, this means benefits highlighted by Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat, such as the “Hong Bao” handouts of $100 to $300 (based on income) is confirmed but at the same time, levy increase for domestic workers, tax increase such as carbon tax and the 2% GST hike is passed as well.
A division was called to count the number of votes casted by MPs. In the end, 89 MPs voted in favour of the budget while eight MPs – all from the Workers’ Party – voted against the budget.
Workers’ Party MPs said they did not support the proposed hike in the Goods and Services Tax (GST).
Earlier on Tuesday, MP for Aljunied GRC, Pritam Singh said that WP cannot support the government’s plan because of the lack of clarity surrounding projected expenditure when GST is raised in future and the relative lack of information on whether there is scope for the reserves to better support Singaporeans.
Ms Sylvia Lim said that while the party approved of the measures that are to be implemented within the current Budget, it did not support the planned increase in the GST.
“…I don’t think we will be in a position to take a stand on that until the information is available at the relevant point in time, so I think it’s ridiculous for the Government to expect us as a responsible party to support something where all the information is still not available and we don’t have a crystal ball.”
Mr Heng replied to Ms Lim, stating that the vote was on the Government’s broader financial policy, and asked for a division.
WP Secretary-General Low Thia Khiang was not in Parliament when the vote took place, he had commended the Budget as a forward-looking Budget to anchor Singapore firmly in the future and for the future.
But he added, “The unfortunate thing about this Budget is that it is looking forward too hastily for future revenue streams by prematurely announcing the GST hike. This has become a unnecessary distraction from the vision articulated in this Budget, and as a real distraction causing the Government to lose its focus in getting buy-in for the vision because it has to explain the future GST hike instead. Do not let this opportunity to lead Singapore with this vision go to waste.”