Taxes must rise and we don’t need to apologise for it

Where else do you think public goods and services come from? The roads, the rails and the reservoirs cost billions to build. The public services and the people that provide the muscle, someone needs to be paid.

What about the MediSave top-ups? The CPF top-ups? The GST rebates, the utility offsets and the CommCare funds? And all those SPRING initiatives? All these are multi-billion dollar programs and money needs to come from somewhere.

Sure, Tharman did say that there will be no GST increases “in the imminent future”. But this is not the imminent future. It has been two years since he made that statement and in the bigger picture, GST and income tax has not been increased for over a decade. 

it is not possible for taxes never to increase, not unless you want to go from mega city to mega slum.

Ok, with that out of the way, we look at the next argument: GST should not be charged on “necessities”. What are necessities? Food items, medicine, education, disability and public transport.

And why not?

Rich people can consume more (and better versions) of these things than an ordinary person can. So why should GST be erased for them?

Moreover there is the famous “GST Rebates”, for the very reason that these monies are returned to the people whom are at the bottom rung of the social ladder.

It’s like shopping first and then getting the tax rebates at the airport.

Finally, I know people like to ask Ministers to reduce their salaries. Please; collectively their salaries do not amount to much. It can’t even pay for one MRT station. 

So increase the taxes please, it is long over due in my opinion. We’re not spending enough on social needs. Eldercare facilities can do so much more with more money. We can have more hospitals and more beds, more and better staff.

The people who give our children education and care can be paid better, be rewarded better.

We can stop depending on volunteers, volunteer organisations and charity for much needed help in looking after the many, many segments of society that require professional services and professional help.

Oh yes, of course there is the SMRT. The only reason why Hong Kong, Taipei and Japan can function so much better is because they are pouring bucketloads of money into the system (some at the expense of some segments of society). Facilities and engineers do not grow from the ground.

All these things need money. Public money comes from taxes.

And these monies do not appear in government coffers magically.

About the author

Tay Leong Tan

Tay Leong Tan is a collective of 3 writers. Tay, Leong and Tan. (Who were you expecting?!) We are enthusiastic about labour issues, economics and current affairs in particular.

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4 Comments

  • Since tax is paid in percentage rather than at an absolute figure, income tax actually get increased automatically when our wages increased. GST figure will also get increased when prices of goods increased as well. Inflation will simply increase our tax revenue accordingly.

    By increase the percentage, that is actually a double increment.

  • Then please explain to me why did Tharman abolish Estate Duty in the first place if the government need to fund all these additional initiatives? Obviously Estate Duty by itself is not enough to cover everything, nonetheless it is still an additional revenue stream. Also the graphic you have chosen to show is highly misleading- you can’t show the entire expenditure of the government while cherry picking only the revenue streams you want to show. What about all the other additional taxes like corporate taxes, alcohol, tobacco, vehicle and COE? You are giving the impression that we need to increase taxes because of the shortfall in revenue versus expenditure.

    • Implementing a tax simply for the sake of contributing to coffers alone is weak logic, and is the kind of thinking that has put citizens at odds with government. If Estate Duty is not substantial, then why collect it at all?

      As for the graphic, it is not misleading. It is not trying to show “entire expenditure of government”. It is to show you the scale of the Minister’s salary. One could have compared it with a bunch of Prada bags, or the price of building, or the Sultan’s Palace in Johor. But isn’t it more relevant to compare it against other national expenditures? You’re absolutely right, when comparing with COE and corporate taxes, the consolidated cabinet salary becomes even smaller.

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