Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’d have heard of the government’s intentions to raise our GST from 7% to 9% sometime between 2021 to 2025. Many Singaporeans were upset by this (eg. yours truly) and some had questions, including Aljunied GRC’s Worker’s Party MP, Sylvia Lim. She speculated whether the government was less than honest about the need for a GST increase.
She said that Singaporeans wondered whether the government was contradicting itself, after it had once said it had enough money for the decade. She also implied that perhaps the delay in increasing the GST was influenced by Singaporean’s negative reaction when the idea was ‘floated’ around. This led to a heated exchange between Minister of Home Affairs and Law K. Shanmugam and Ms Lim, with Mr Shanmugam stating that Ms Lim was accusing the government of backtracking from its original intention to increase the GST due to the severe public reaction.
The gripe that Mr Shanmugam had with Ms Lim is that she painted a picture of the government yielding to popular opinion instead of being certain on what Singapore needed for the future. According to Mr Shanmugam, the government always had the intention of increasing the GST. For example, PM Lee mentioned a need for a tax increase in the 2013 National Day Rally and Finance Minister Mr Heng Swee Keat mentioned its possibility in last year’s budget debate.
To this, Ms Lim admits that she had no hard evidence and was merely forwarding hers and the public’s suspicions. Though Mr Heng has asked Ms Lim to retract her allegation, Ms Lim seems to still be sticking to the opinion that “there was nothing wrong with what I said.” After all, shouldn’t MPs be allowed to ask questions and clarify doubts that Singaporeans may have?