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Younger S'poreans should not be burdened with taxes: K Shanmugam

Law and Foreign Affairs Minister K Shanmugam said that the government does not want younger Singaporeans to be saddled with tax burdens, even as the elderly are looked after.

Younger S'poreans should not be burdened with taxes: K Shanmugam

Pedestrians walk along the street of Orchard Road. (AFP/Roslan Rahman)

SINGAPORE: Law and Foreign Affairs Minister K Shanmugam said that the government does not want younger Singaporeans to be saddled with tax burdens, even as the elderly are looked after.

He said it's important to balance the country's revenue and expenditure.

Mr Shanmugam was responding to the recently concluded Budget Debate in Parliament, at the sidelines of a community event at the Nee Soon Group Representation Constituency.

Mr Shanmugam said the government wants a society which looks after one another, especially those who can't help themselves.

"There's a lot of debate on whether you can survive in Singapore on S$1,000 or S$850. We don't want anyone to earn that amount, which is why we give opportunities for people to upgrade themselves. And education is made, literally free, for those who can't afford to pay for it," he said.

This year's doubling of health care spending and help for the low income as well as disabled, all point towards an inclusive approach.

But at the same time, the accounts do not go unchecked.

Mr Shanmugam said: "When I talk to my grassroots leaders, I just did a walkabout in my constituency, we also have to send another message, which is that, only about 50 per cent of Singaporeans pay taxes.

"And you look at all the other fees and everything else that's collected, in terms of what the government gets, and what it spends, it's all in the book.

"And today if you look at it in those terms, in terms of the revenue and expenditure, it is something the government has to be careful about."

Mr Shanmugam said currently a significant part of taxes are paid by foreigners who are easily mobile, and by the better-off.

But the government also ensures that tax rates in Singapore remain competitive.

And rather than increasing taxes, he noted that the government would rather people keep their money and support those in need, for a truly inclusive society.

He said: "We keep our tax rates competitive, 20 per cent at the top rate. Hong Kong is 15 per cent. If you go to UK, US, you know what their tax rates are?

"You're talking about 40 per cent, 50 per cent, people are talking about even higher. We don't want those kind of rates.

"We rather people keep their money and spend it as they like, buy insurance for their health and at the same time the government supports those who despite all the help, still need further help. So inclusive society."

Source: CNA/ck

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