Goodies are generously being handed out with this year’s budget. Goodies for the young and old, for millennials and merdeka generation.
Is this an election budget? The odds and signals certainly point in that direction.
Amidst all the handouts, it’s easy to lose sight of the elephant in the room – the impending Goods and Service Tax hike from 7% to 9%, which Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat has confirmed will kick in by earliest 2021.
A strong case has yet to be made for the GST hike – among the reasons given are that it is to help the elderly poor! Yet it will be pushed through.
This is the real killer, the one that will suck back largely what little people pocket, and more. Once the GST goes up, so will everything else – that cup of coffee, loaf of bread, hawker meal, restaurant meal, necessities and luxuries.
Singaporeans will have to live with the GST increase and its spillover effects forever. But handouts in the form of GST vouchers, rebates, top-ups and bonuses are temporary and one-off.
In Malaysia, the government unveiled a budget with goodies galore six months before the general elections in May 2018. And just days before the polls, people were given generous cash handouts of up to RM1,200.
The people happily took the handouts and just as happily booted out the government at the elections. They saw through the government smokescreen.