The case of Bukit Panjang Polyclinic: Liang Eng Hwa on the GST hike

07/11/2022

Should we raise the GST next year? Especially while the Ukraine-Russia war and the never-ending pandemic drive up Singaporeans’ energy bills and food prices?

“To answer these questions, we need to go back to the fundamentals: Why do we need to raise GST in the first place?” laid out MP Liang Eng Hwa (Bukit Panjang SMC) in Parliament Monday (Nov 7).

The answer in a nutshell? The case of the Bukit Panjang Polyclinic.

Expanding essential services

“We have recent opened the polyclinic in the town and it has been full house since day one of opening,” said Mr Liang about the Government’s most recent upgrading project for his constituency, which treats about 600 patients daily.

“There is increasing demand for places in senior care centres, dialysis centres and rehabilitation centres.”

“There’s always a queue there waiting,” he added. “We intend to further expand our capacity in the coming years.”

There is a moral necessity for expanding, Mr Liang said. Postponing them means not doing right by our parents and grandparents today and in the future.

And as he previously (Oct 2021) noted in the video, getting the Bukit Panjang Polyclinic up was no easy journey.

“The Polyclinic involves a very high initial financial commitment from the Government and high recurring cost,” said Mr Liang in the video.

It’s not just one neighbourhood polyclinic where money’s needed.

“Beside ageing and healthcare-related spending, we also need more funding for capacity building, climate mitigation, energy resilience, securities, education, childcare and the various social employment support we want to do,” listed down MP Liang about these essentials in Parliament.

“So there’s no dispute on the need for higher spending, and hence, the need for higher revenue to fund these escalating expenditures.”    

A sustainable source of funds

The GST, that said, is but one of the Government’s revenue streams for funding these expenditures.

It is, in fact, not even the major revenue stream.

“Every year, the Government draws revenues from a diversified source of taxes to pay for our current expenditures with corporate tax, personal income taxes among the top contributors at 18.3 per cent and 13.6 per cent of total revenues, respectively,” said Mr Liang.

“The GST contributed about 12.2 per cent, or $12.8 billion, our third-largest revenue contributor, while the NIRC at 18.7 per cent is now the largest revenue contributor to balance our budget,” he elaborated.

He also noted that the Government reviews and adjusts taxes as appropriate, such as for wealth or property in the case of the Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty.

“In our unique system, we actually take in more taxes from the wealthier group through GST, those with higher purchasing power,” he added.

A plan for the future

“And at the same time mitigate the impact to low-income or no-income Singaporeans,” Mr Liang continued.

In particular: The S$560 million Household Support Package in Budget 2022. The S$1.5 billion Support Package in June. And the cost-of-living Support Package in October which was also worth S$1.5 billion. 

And the Assurance Package for helping Singaporeans offset the GST is now at a total S$8 billion.

“The Assurance Package effectively delays the GST increase by five years for the majority and 10 years for the low-income,” he noted.

It’s support for tough times now and in the future.

“We can be assured that when we get older, we also get healthcare and other support,” said MP Liang about the GST increase.

“Because we will have a diversified and more stable source of revenue to pay for our various spending programmes.”

So, yes, the GST hike isn’t a “should”. It’s a must

Not just for the Bukit Panjang Polyclinic, but for Government services all over Singapore.