All surpluses are given back to Singaporeans in different forms: Lawrence Wong

surplus, government, inflation, set, GST, inflation, NIRC

When WP Jamus Lim wrote in a Facebook post that ‘the government must not make money while citizens suffer’ he was just doing what an Opposition MP usually does, using emotive language to paint the government in a negative light even when it is not true.

Thus he looks with glee upon the surpluses the Government has accumulated and declares that these surpluses must now all be distributed to Singaporeans who are suffering from inflation. The Government should not be making money.

But nothing could be further from the truth.

All surpluses are returned to Singaporeans

Back in 2018, Minister Lawrence Wong said in Parliament – also in response to surpluses – that ALL surpluses are given back to Singaporeans in different forms.

And Singaporeans know this is true.

Think of the Pioneer Generation Package and the Merdeka Generation Package. These are $8 billion and $6.5 billion respectively. Where does the money come from? Surpluses.

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Spending without bankrupting the country

This is how the PAP Government spends without bankrupting the country. First they set aside money from surpluses for a specific purpose. And then they spend from what they have set aside for this specific purpose.

The money set aside for the Pioneer and Merdeka Generation Packages ensures that the Government will be able to honour their promises to Singaporeans. Regardless of how the economy performs, and regardless of whether there is a recession, money has already been set aside to meet government’s obligations to the Pioneer and Merdeka generations. 

The Government also regularly injects funds from surpluses into the various endowment funds like the MediFund, ComCare Fund and Edusave Fund. This ensures these funds are never depleted and the needy will have ready assistance

In 2018, there were $7.7 billion surpluses and these were used in this way: the bulk of it was set aside for rail infrastructure and premium subsidies while some were distributed to Singaporeans via the SG Bonus.

More pressing challenges ahead than inflation

Presently, inflation is not the only challenge that Singapore is facing even if it is the one most keenly felt by people.

While inflation may be a so-called ‘cost-of-living’ crisis as Jamus called it, there are other challenges like the climate crisis that is an existential crisis far bigger than inflation

And obviously a huge chunk of money will be needed to fortify Singapore against adverse weather conditions and protect our coastline.

Leaders must be more farsighted than citizens. Leaders cannot be so narrow as to focus on one crisis while ignoring all the rest as what WP Jamus Lim appeared to do doing. He has suggested in a Facebook post that the increased in tax revenue that the Government collected, the so-called extraordinary surplus the Government has, be used to postpone the GST hike and rebated back to Singaporeans to help them cope with inflation

If all of the surplus is channelled to help people with inflation, what will happen to the other more pressing challenges like climate change and the next pandemic?

Leaders must be visionary, farsighted, take in the big picture both domestic and external and be able to keep the future in focus even as they deal with the present.

Is it too much to ask of the Opposition?

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