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GST, healthcare among issues raised at post-Budget forum

Participants at a post-Budget forum on Wednesday have raised several questions, including future GST and healthcare subsidies.

SINGAPORE: Participants at a post-Budget forum on Wednesday have raised several questions, including future GST and healthcare subsidies.

Some 120 participants attended the forum, organised by government feedback agency REACH.

Among the questions, participants asked whether the costs of Budget 2014 will result in a rise in the Goods and Services Tax in the future. They also wanted to know whether the handing out of healthcare subsidies will lead to recipients over-using the medical services.

Senior Minister of State for Finance and Transport Josephine Teo said the question of raising taxes in light of higher social spending shows that all good things have to be paid for.

She said the government will have to think of ways to increase revenue to balance responsible spending.

But she said there may come a time when Singapore has to tackle the issue of raising taxes.

On the issue of over-usage of medical services, REACH chairman Amy Khor said healthcare subsidies require co-payment.

And this will encourage responsible usage of healthcare services.

Other issues raised at the forum included the government's need to spread the key messages of the Budget effectively.

It was suggested that this could be done by holding talks in different languages and dialects, for example, to reach out to various groups over a period of time.

The panel speakers at the forum also noted how most of the benefits in this year's Budget will go towards helping lower-income and vulnerable groups.

Mrs Teo also explained that the middle-income group is not forgotten. She said healthcare and education subsidies, for instance, have been improved and extended to the middle-income group.

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