At the IMAS-Bloomberg Investment Conference earlier this year (9 March), SM Tharman Shanmugaratnam talked about the ‘perfect long storm’ that the world has entered, shaped by a confluence of many factors.
It is an era of profound uncertainty and fragility.
The world has been facing rising prices caused by the pandemic recovery and then exacerbated by the Russia-Ukraine war.
Even as inflation rages its ugly head, there are other very pressing challenges.
Not least of this is the climate crisis which looms big. Then there is the need for the world to be prepared for the next global health security. The covid pandemic shows how ill-prepared the world was and there are lessons in there to learn in order to be better prepared.
What climate change means for Singapore
Our low-lying geography means that rising sea levels and increasing rainfall poses a significant risk of flash floods. Additionally, our tropical location means that rising temperature will pose a risk to health.
This is why Singapore is accelerating its long term climate change plans, and also stepping up its 2030 goals. SM Teo Chee Hean and Minister Grace Fu talked about this in Parliament in March this year.
Taking care of an ageing population
Bringing the inequality gap closer
The GST hike will go towards making resources available to ensure that seniors are well taken care of and our society continues to be an inclusive one where every child, regardless of background, can say that he or she has a good start in life.
Supporting the GST hike requires each and every one of us to look at ourselves as a nation-builder who has to make tough choices every now and then. It means making sacrifices sometimes.
The GST that we contribute will return to us in benefits greater than our contributions through higher subsidies for ourselves or our parents in healthcare, and greater support for our children and the needy through social spending.
To quote Mr Tharman at the conference:
“5-6% inflation can be a very demoralising experience for populations and will complicate the task of governments to rally support for the types of initiatives, the taxes, the carbon pricing that is required to address the larger challenges we face.
So it’s not that inflation in itself at 5-6% is the biggest problem. It is the social and political implications, the implications for the political capital that is required for nations to address the larger challenges.”
Will Singaporeans rise to the occasion and meet the challenge by supporting the GST hike in the midst of inflation pain so that Singapore can remain a bright red dot and a beautiful for generations to come?