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Workers' Party says S$1.5b support package 'step in the right direction' but does not support GST hike

Workers' Party says S$1.5b support package 'step in the right direction' but does not support GST hike

Workers' Party chief Pritam Singh speaking in Parliament on Feb 28, 2022.

SINGAPORE: The Workers' Party said that the Government's S$1.5 billion support package to help vulnerable Singaporeans cushion the impact of inflation is a "step in the right direction".

However, the opposition party added that it does not support an increase in the Goods & Services Tax (GST), which is due to increase in two steps to 9 per cent by 2024.

"Inflation continues to rise and is at a decade high, and Singaporeans are bearing the brunt of it," said WP in a Facebook post on Wednesday (Jun 22), a day after the Government announced the support package.

"The Workers' Party will continue to argue against the proposed GST increase in Parliament, as well as for alternative forms of revenue generation, such as wealth taxes or raising the reserves contribution ceiling."

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Lawrence Wong had said on Tuesday that the GST hike will proceed as planned, in response to questions from the media.

He said that healthcare spending is rising rapidly due to Singapore's ageing population. While taxes are set to be raised on luxury cars, property and on high-income earners, Mr Wong said that these moves are not enough to cover the revenue required. 

During this year's Budget debate, the WP had raised various alternatives to the GST hike.

WP Secretary-general and Leader of the Opposition Pritam Singh had said: "While the GST hike was anticipated, it comes at a difficult time for our people. Inflation is on the upswing and prices are high.

"The Workers' Party has previously raised several proposals in this House, on both taxes and adjustments to the reserves framework. These options do not constitute a raiding of the reserves as the PAP (People's Action Party) enthusiastically and inaccurately portrays," he added.

Mr Wong said on Tuesday while inflation is a concern, there are mid- to long-term challenges to deal with that Singapore cannot put off, including climate change and Singaporeans' increasing healthcare needs.

“The challenges we face are longer term, we do not know how prolonged or deep these challenges will be. And we will be better positioned if we enter into this new environment with a strong economic and fiscal position.”

The support package is funded from better-than-expected fiscal outcomes in 2021, with no need for funds from past reserves.

It includes an additional GST Voucher cash special payment of up to S$300 to 1.5 million eligible Singaporeans and S$100 in utilities credit for every Singaporean household to offset higher energy prices.

Source: CNA/hm(gr)

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