PV’s Prabu Ramachandran opines on taxes, ministers’ pay cut, multi-party democracy & foreign labour

PV’s Prabu Ramachandran opines on taxes, ministers’ pay cut, multi-party democracy & foreign labour

On 22 June, People’s Voice (PV) member Prabu Ramachandran hosted a Facebook Live broadcast for a Q&A session with the public regarding the current affairs in Singapore.

Mr Ramachandran started off by introducing himself as a 32-year-old ordinary man living in an HDB flat with a financial background.

Agreeing to reimpose Estate Duty and “Luxury Tax”

In regards to taxes, the 32-year-old stated that Estate Duty should be reimposed. He asserted that the “rich have to start paying for their fair share”.

Apart from that, he mentioned that taxes should be imposed on luxury items, adding that people should not be subjected to tax for purchasing essential goods.

“The higher you earn your pay higher taxes. We essentially should not be having a tax scheme or tax policies to text everyone to give discounts to the highest earners to the highest asset class holders. So yes, we should bring it back.”

“We should bring back Estate Duty taxes. It should be re-imposed. The rich has got to start paying their fair share. And I mean we should be having a “Luxury Tax” rather than a Goods and Service Tax which is on a wider scope of products and services such as essential things like food, water, electricity and internet.”

Ideal pay for ministers

One of the members of the public asked Mr Ramachandran for his input on the ideal percentage of pay cuts for the ministers. In response, the activist said that the ministers’ salaries should depend on the nation’s population size.

He stated that ministers in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand were paid fairly, unlike the ones in Singapore who have salaries that are “out of this world”.

“What I would ultimately mention is it comes down to our population size. It comes down to maybe an average of all the global world leaders then it would be a fair pay.”

Mr Ramachandran then pointed out the difference between the leaders in New Zealand and Singapore, noting that New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her ministers decided to take a pay cut to show solidarity with those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, while the politicians in Singapore were “politicking” instead.

Support for home-based and micro-businesses

Mr Ramachandran expressed that he supports small or micro-businesses as well as home-based businesses. He believed that the Government should “go back to creating HDB and set up wet markets for small players” like the average Singaporean.

Following that, he touched on the topic of asset ownership, suggesting that taxi companies should be scrapped. He mentioned how the taxi companies have been profiteering while taxi drivers are working 10 to 12 hours a day.

“Essentially, all these years taxi companies have been profiteering while taxi drivers have been working 10 to 12 hours. That is a form of big business corporatism in corporatisation, which I don’t believe in. I believe in capitalism in the sense that the taxi driver owns his own livelihood of his vehicle. We have to stick up for small players.”

PV stands for a multi-party democracy

One of his viewers then asked Mr Ramachandran why the alternative parties would not cooperate for the upcoming General Election (GE).

He explained that everyone has different views and standpoints. Despite all the parties have different views and beliefs, the activist expressed that these parties have one common goal, which is to hold the Government accountable and in check.

“You can’t give a single party all the authority and power in the world, or else there will be no checks, balances, and how do you hold them accountable?”

Besides that, Mr Ramachandran also believes that Singapore needs to have “direct democracy” in the form of referendums. Apart from electing the representatives to become Members of Parliament (MPs), he explained that the people should also be given rights to vote in a referendum.

“Now what we had is what is once in four years or five years. We’ve got a representative democracy model that you elect your MPs and let your representatives represent you in Parliament. But along the way, within these five years, I feel that every year we need to have a referendum asking questions and we’ll let the people vote.”

He further explained that this would bring back ownership and rights for the citizens, adding that it also allows the ordinary people to have more say on how the country is being run.

To answer the viewer’s question, Mr Ramachandran noted that the alternative parties do cooperate although they having different opinions. He described that this is how a multi-party democracy works.

He went on to emphasise that good policies would be supported by any or all political parties.

On foreign labour

On the final question submitted, another viewer asked him about the “ultimate criteria” for foreigners to enter Singapore. The activist opined that Singapore could accept people from the professions that the nation does not cultivate, such as chiropractors.

However, for professions like engineering, local PMETs should not be displaced by foreign talents.

“We hardly had any Singaporean chiropractors and those guys treat neckaches, backaches and stuff like those. Most of them come from the US, UK or other parts of Europe. We don’t have this skill set. So, it’s fine, you could get them, but we should not be displacing our local PMETs.”

He also stressed that hiring cheaper labour from neighbouring countries is “not the way to go forward” because local graduates end up being unemployed in their own home country.

“You hear a lot of diploma or degree graduate Singaporeans leaving Singapore because they can’t find jobs here. We are employing anyone and everyone else in the regional neighbourhood, not because they are better just because they are cheaper, and that is not the way to go forward.”

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