According to a whistleblower, Singapore's main labour union, National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) conducted a short survey on tax matter with more than 300 of its union leaders in late November 2017 and received close to 440 response.
The Online Citizen wrote to NTUC on Thursday to ascertain whether the labour union conducted the survey, however, no reply has been received till today. What TOC did not include in the email is that we were also given the results of the survey which is allegedly conducted by NTUC.
The results were released to the survey participants in the first week of December 2017.
The questions were asked and their answers are as follow:
1. Where to tax more to increase revenue?
- Betting taxes
- Corporate Income Tax
- Asset Taxes
- Statutory Boards' Contributions
- Customs and Excise Tax
2. When should the increase be made?
Top three results:
- 38.4% chose "between 2021 and 2025"
- 15.9% chose "between 2018 and 2020"
- 12.4% chose "between 2046 and 2050"
3. Should GST be increased?
- No. 73.8%
- Yes. 9.9%
- Maybe 16.3%
4. "Yes" to GST: reasonable hike %?
- 51.2% - 1% is acceptable
- 27.9% - 2% is acceptable
- 14.0% - 3% is acceptable
5. How can govt help low-income earners if GST is increased?
- More rebates
- Increase salaries
- GST vouchers
- Reimburse in other forms
6. "No" to GST: how else to balance spending and revenue?
- Tax the rich
- Reduce expenditure
- Cut salary of high rank govt officers/ministers
- Raise vice taxes
- Review spending and spend within means
What is interesting about the survey is that majority of the leaders surveyed in this poll choose to have taxes to be increased between 2021 and 2025. The same timeframe which the government has announced for the impending GST hike of 9%
The current Secretary-General of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) is Minister in the Prime Minister Office, Chan Chun Sing. One of the three potential Prime Minister candidate highlighted by the mainstream media.
Should NTUC decide to issue a response, it will be updated in this article.
For the past week or so, members of Parliament from the People's Action Party have gone one after the other seeking the retraction of the statement made by Workers' Party Chairman and MP for Aljunied GRC, Sylvia Lim on 1 March 2018.
In her request for clarification from the Finance Minister, Heng Swee Keat, Ms Lim said,
"The government itself is not definitive about when this is going to happen. It may be seven years from today and of course, we do note that in the run up to the budget discussion there was some test balloons being floated about the fact that the government needs to raise revenue and immediate the public seized on the fact that DPM Tharman and perhaps other leaders had earlier said that the government had enough money for the decade so the public pointed out that "hey is this a contradiction. And I rather suspect myself that the government is stuck with that announcement, otherwise if that announcement has not been made, perhaps we would be debating a GST hike today. Early on Minister Heng also has says that the government has not made the decision on when because itself has to look at prevailing economic conditions and also our needs at the time. Fair enough, similarly, we will be on a position to take a stand at the relevant point of time. So I think it is 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."
As if Ms Lim's comment struck a raw nerve, Ministers and Senior Ministers of State have issued statements of their own in Parliament and in the public domain to demand. Particularly, Minister of Culture, Community and Youth, Grace Fu who is also the Leader of the House, said she will refer Ms Lim to the Committee of Privileges if she repeats her act.
Ms Lim announced on 8 March that she will not apologise for her comments,
"As an Opposition MP, it is my duty to watch every move and signal from the government, for the future of Singapore and welfare of Singaporeans. Hence, I admit that I did suspect the Government intended to raise GST. However, the Government contributed to this suspicion by its non-denial of reports and economists’ predictions of an immediate GST rise. Based on the sequence of events, I believed the Government could have intended to raise the GST rate at this Budget.
Thus, during the heat of the exchanges at the Budget Round-up, I articulated my suspicion. In doing so, I believe I was doing my duty as an MP to convey ground concerns, reactions and confusion. I did not accuse the Government of being untruthful as alleged, and neither had I intended to accuse the Government of dishonesty. I do not accept the over-characterisation the PAP Ministers have put on my words and intentions, based on their own interpretation borne out of over-active imagination and over-sensitivity.
Since the Government has now strongly refuted that it had any intention to raise GST immediately, I can accept that my suspicion then may not have been correct."
Correction: The article previously states that Ms Fu has referred Ms Lim to the Committee of Privileges, the correct version should be Ms Fu warned Ms Lim that if she were to repeat her act, she will be referred to the Committee.