At a rally during the General Elections in 2015, SDP Secretary-General Chee Soon Juan said:
“The PAP has pulled out all the stops, giving concessions here, rebates there and getting everyone drunk with SG50 merriment.
But what happens when the party is over, my friends? What happens when the music stops playing and all the guests go home? Your housing loan is still not paid, the electricity bill has gone up, and the guy that threw the party now sends you the bill for the cake, the decorations and the drinks.”
True enough. After GE 2015, the PAP raised water prices, car-park charges, bus fares, ERP rates, gas and electricity tariffs, Town Council charges, and kindergarten, polytechnic, ITE, university fees, etc. It is going to raise the GST in a couple of years time.
History is repeating itself. Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat announced the Bicentennial Bonus in his Budget Statement yesterday with giveaways designed to sweeten the sour public sentiment that has built up over the last few years. It seems that the bigger the government’s problems, the bigger the sweets.
This is a most myopic and irresponsible way of spending public funds. Rather than use the budget wisely to reform the system to prepare Singapore for the myriad of challenges that confront us, the PAP is engaging in short-term pork-barreling to entice votes.
For example, nothing in the current Budget addresses the high cost of living in the world’s most expensive city, the seriously unaffordable public housing, and an outmoded education system that does not prepare our children for the future.
Singaporeans must see through the gimmick and hold the government to higher standards of accountability.
As in the 2015 Budget, Singaporeans will have to pay for the giveaways because, ultimately, the government gets its money from the people.
Budget 2019 is no different. After the next elections which are widely expected to be held later this year – when the party comes to an end and the music stops playing – the PAP will send the taxman to our door and demand payment for the celebrations.