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by March 1, 2018 Technology

SINGAPORE, Ministerial salaries will not be changed, said Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean in Parliament during the Committee of Supply (COS) debates on Thursday (March 1).

Lee?s announcement came after several Members of Parliament asked whether a salary review has been conducted, since the five-year time frame to do so had passed.

The last review by an independent committee chaired by Gerard Ee was completed on Dec 30, 2011, and a White Paper on this was subsequently endorsed by Parliament in January 2012. A new review committee was formed by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in 2017.

Teo was speaking during the Prime Minister’s Office session at the COS debates.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat said that by announcing the GST increase early, the Government is giving ?ample notice? to citizens and businesses, and is being ?honest and upfront? about Singapore?s national needs and setting out what needs to be done.

Rounding off the Budget debate in Parliament, Heng addressed questions from Members of Parliament on the timing of the GST increase.

He pointed out that in planning Singapore?s finances, the Government takes the ?long view?, where it seeks to understand major trends holistically, and how they might affect Singaporeans.

?We seek to understand major trends holistically, and how they might affect Singaporeans,? he said. ?We assess carefully what we need to do in response, and how we should find the resources to support our plans.

?This is how we had determined that we will need to raise GST sometime in the period from 2021 to 2025.?

Heng added that just as the decision to raise GST was not made lightly, the Government will exercise care in deciding the timing of its implementation. ?Before we move to raise the GST, we will carefully assess the prevailing economic conditions as well as our needs at that point.?

In explaining the rationale for the increase, Heng pointed out that the Government should not shy away from addressing the need for taxes, where it sees areas of collective need that can be better met by Government provision. This, he said, includes areas like healthcare, supporting the elderly and retirees, investing in people through preschools and SkillsFuture, and strengthening Singapore?s security.

?Looking ahead, we have needs that occur year after year. The responsible way for us to fund such spending is to raise taxes.?

He added that the Government is mindful of the impact of tax changes on households, particularly the lower-income ones, and will help them to adjust while maintaining a ?fair and progressive system of taxes and transfers.?

He said that when GST is raised, the permanent GST Voucher scheme will also be enhanced, to provide more help to lower-income households and seniors. ?We will also implement a transitional offset package, with lower- and middle-income households receiving more support, to help them adjust.?

Heng also stressed that the GST increase is not expected to impact Singapore?s competitiveness significantly, noting that the future GST rate of 9 per cent is ?not high by international standards?.

?The OECD average is 19 per cent,? he said. ?So our new rate is less than half of that. Among countries in the region, many others have GST standard rates that exceed 9 per cent, he said.

Some countries are also contemplating raising GST, he added, pointing out that Japan plans to raise its consumption tax rate from 8 per cent to 10 per cent in October 2019.

?In summary, we have taken a principled approach to meet the general population?s future needs through a broad-based GST increase, while ensuring that our overall system of taxes and transfers remains fair and progressive, and is supportive of growth.? — NNN-CNA

Source: Nam News Network