GST hike: successful government leads to complacency in Singaporeans and more complaining

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Singaporeans are fortunate. We are well taken care of by a competent government that also cares, so much so that we are shielded from bearing the full brunt when a crisis hits. 

Take the recent Malaysian ban on the export of live chickens to Singapore

Before we could feel the full impact of chicken shortage, the government had activated their supply chains and worked with importers to bring in chilled chicken from Australia. And now, we could soon have chicken from Indonesia if all negotiation goes well, as Singapore looks to take care of chicken slaughter houses here and their employees, besides our stomachs.

Pandemic care

At the start of the pandemic when countries interdicted mask supplies, Singapore acted fast to bring back our mask production line from Taiwan, invented high quality filter so that we would never lack high quality masks ever again.
The Government acted decisively very early on in the pandemic to save jobs, save businesses, support the self-employed and the lower income groups, preserve capabilities in sectors such as aviation which was hardest hit, so that they could easily take off again when the situation improved.
There were hardships but we were shielded from the full brunt of the pandemic. There was no deep scaring in the economy.

So good people think it’s natural  

The government has done so well to take care of people that consequently, people do not fully understand or appreciate it when the government talks about facing a volatile, unpredictable and increasingly more dangerous world. They think it’s exaggeration.
People spend their time on social media complaining against the government and calling for them to be voted out.

Not good enough

When DPM Lawrence Wong announced a $1.5 billion support package to help Singaporeans and businesses, they dissed the measures. Instead, they want the GST hike postponed. Some even want other taxes suspended.
This is because they are not the government and can focus only on the present and on one thing – inflation. The government, on the other hand, has to focus on both the present AND future challenges. They have to ensure that all their social programmes to help people can continue to run uninterrupted even when there is inflation. If we suspend taxes, do we also suspend social programmes to help people?
Some ask for the sky. They want free transport, every hardship removed. Otherwise, vote them out, they said.
Suspend taxes, give free transport. Now, where is that money coming from? Print money? Or just spend from reserves and deplete them?
More spending from reserves is what the opposition PSP and WP want. Instead of treating the reserves as our strategic resources and rainy day fund, they want to treat the reserves as an ‘everyday’ fund. Just dip into it everyday and save Singaporeans from a 2% GST hike. A sure way to erode resources that have stood us in good stead during very difficult times. 
The Government will find ways to help Singaporeans cope as the situation unfolds around the world. But as Singaporeans, we also have our part to play by tightening our belt and bite the bullet. This is how we overcome together and be resilient.
The impact of the hike is cushioned in several ways for the lower and middle income workers and retirees.

GST hike and building an inclusive society

The GST hike will take place in 2 stages with 1% hike taking effect in 2023. If you spend $3000 a month, the additional 1% hike is $30 a month.

What are you getting in the latest support package? 1.5 million Singaporeans (lower and middle-income workers and retirees) will receive up to $300 in cash. This is on top of the $400 GSTV cash that will be given in August. In total, eligible Singaporeans will receive up to $700 in cash. 

In addition, all households will receive $100 in utilities voucher. This is on top of the usual U-save rebates. This means a household staying in a 4-room flat will get up to 5 months of utilities rebates this year. 

The Assurance Package ($6.6 billion) announced during the budget means every adult Singaporean will receive cash payouts totalling $700 to $1600 over 5 years. 

The impact of a GST hike for the lower and middle income workers is cushioned in several ways and the benefits and subsidies they receive exceeds whatever they contribute through GST

What does it mean to build an inclusive society? It is one where everyone plays a part. An inclusive society is not one where the rich shoulders all the tax burden while the poorer enjoys all the benefits. The GST is a way for everyone to play a part in writing the next chapter of the Singapore story. The rich give more and receive less in benefits. The poor give less but enjoy significantly more in benefits. This is how we build an inclusive society of responsible members. 

A successful government has led to complacency in Singaporeans where complaining seems to be norm and Singaporeans expect the government to not only address hardships but to ensure no hardships. 

We will do well to remember that it is only by going through crises and difficulties together as one united people, each one playing our part, that we can be a resilient people


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