Higher than expected property and vehicle tax collections are one-off and Singapore cannot rely on them to happen every year to fund longer-term expenditure, said Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong.
“These are largely once-off upsides due to higher than expected collections with regard to property and vehicle transactions. These are sentiment based transactions. We can in no way count on them to happen year after year. And certainly, we cannot rely on them to fund our longer term recurrent and structural spending increases,” he told the House on Jul 4.
DPM Wong was responding to Leader of the Opposition Pritam Singh, who said the Government had collected more revenue in the fiscal year of 2021 than the fiscal year of 2019, citing figures from the Department of Statistics.
DPM Wong then went on to explain how the Government managed to introduce the recent S$1.5 billion package within means.
He said that on the expenditure side, Omicron was milder than expected and thus there was some savings. Coupled with the once-off revenue savings, the Government was then able to push out the S$1.5 billion package within current means.
“So we are fortunate in that regard. But let’s not count on these once-off instances to fund our longer term structural spending increases,” he reminded the House.
Hallmark of our Party’s fiscal approach
DPM Wong’s explanation highlighted the Party’s long-sightedness and stewardship in monetary matters – especially in saving up for future Singaporeans.
By not taking the easy way out of dipping into the reserves frequently, our forefathers were able to grow it. And that’s also why the current generation is able to benefit, especially in tough and uncertain times like the pandemic.
In his op-ed for Petir.sg, DPM Wong also noted that our forefathers were disciplined and helped build up the reserves we have today.
“So let us uphold this same mindset, and continue to keep faith with future generations, so that they too will be able to benefit from the reserves, rather than be forced to pay higher taxes in the future,” he wrote.