When it comes to spending the country’s reserves, it should be done in an appropriate and thoughtful manner as the funds in the reserves came from sacrifices made by senior Singaporeans, said Singapore Democratic Party’s (SDP) chairman Dr Paul Tambyah.
Dr Tambyah explained that since Singapore does not have natural resources like oil and minerals for it to rely on for revenue, the country’s reserves are collected through “sacrifices of our parents and grandparents” who have given up their pensions and other benefits.
“The reserves came from the sacrifices of our parents and grandparents. You know our parents gave up pensions, our grandparents gave up the S$1 Polyclinic, S$5 hospitals that we used to have when we had a universal healthcare system with the single-payer mechanism,” the chairman said while speaking at the party’s Meet the Press session Wednesday (24 June), which was held on online video-conferencing platform Zoom.
Since Singapore now has a more market driven system, Dr Tambyah said that this has resulted in seniors depending on their children for everything as they — especially those working in the civil service — don’t receive any pensions to support them after retirement.
“It’s true that the reserves are set aside for a rainy day. So that’s why it’s all the more important for these reserves to be used appropriately in a thoughtful manner that [will] really benefit Singaporeans, and not just the employers,” the chairman stated.
When asked on how SDP plans to cut GST to zero percent after the Government has dipped into reserves a few times in just the first half of this year, SDP’s chief Dr Chee Soon Juan said that the party’s proposal is to temporarily suspend GST until the end of 2021.
“The government collects on average S$10 billion in GST every year. It has been doing for the last several years already. To get them to suspend the GST for the next one and a half years is not asking for a lot,” Dr Chee said.
SDP’s election campaign for the upcoming GE is “Four Yes, One No” or 4Y1N Campaign, which is the party’s vision for Singapore in a post-COVID future.
Under the Four Yes, the party is looking at suspending GST, providing retrenchment benefits for those who lost their job due to the pandemic, offering income to retirees over the age of 65 and putting people first.
As for the One No, SDP rejects the plan of 10 million population.
Wants to push for serious debate in Parliament
Additionally, Dr Chee also stated that the party wants to go into Parliament to ensure serious debates are held to “re-think” the way in which Singapore’s reserves are being deployed.
“We’re not going to just pile on whatever the PAP has already proposed…What we are going to say is to have a relook at what it has proposed and what it was going to pay out, and scrutinise the budget that they’re going to propose,” Dr Chee explained.
He also went on to say that a large portion of the reserves go to Government-Linked Companies (GLCs) as well as to “bail out corporations”. As such, he asked if those are really the wise way of using the country’s reserves.
“Get the help to where it’s really needed – to retrenched workers, to the elderly and to the average family that are just trying to make ends meet,” Dr Chee suggested.