DPM Heng Swee Keat rounds up Budget 2020 debate in Parliament. (Image source: Screenshot of CNA video)

By other people’s money (OPM), we of course refer to money that belongs to the citizens of the country.
It is taxpayers’ money.
On Labour Day, it’s timely to remind ourselves that the money the State has is the result of the fruits of our labour.
It is therefore a misnomer to think of Heng Swee Keat as Santa Claus. Think of him instead as a tax collector.
As Finance Minister, Heng spearheads the collection of all manner of taxes from the people – including income tax, wealth tax, goods and services tax, property tax and road tax.
It is also a fallacy to think of the money that is doled out during this pandemic as a windfall.
Some people say, wah, strike 4D! Luck has nothing to do with it. It is the people’s hard-earned money that went into paying taxes.
If we need any further proof, take it from Margaret Thatcher, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 4 May 1979 until 28 November 1990.
In a famous speech, she told the people of the UK:

Let us never forget this fundamental truth: the State has no source of money other than money which people earn themselves.
If the State wishes to spend more it can do so only by borrowing your savings or by taxing you more. It is no good thinking that someone else will pay – that “someone else” is you. There is no such thing as public money; there is only taxpayers’ money.

So there we have it from the Iron Lady!
As plainspoken as can be: the State has no money, whatever money the State spends is taxpayers’ money, if the State wants to spend more, it has to tax more.
The government has already told Singaporeans that taxes have to be increased to fund healthcare and infrastructure spending.
In his budget speech on Feb 28, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat said that the GST hike from 7 per cent to 9 per cent will take effect between 2021 and 2025.
It could well happen sooner rather than later for two reasons.
Firstly, the government has had to dole out a lot of money to help people and companies tide over the current crisis.
And secondly, if the government should score a landslide victory in the upcoming general election, it would probably take it that it has the people’s mandate to hike the GST by the earliest date – 2021.

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