Our Party is committed to strengthening our long-standing symbiotic relationship we have with the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), stated Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the NTUC National Delegates’ Conference on November 22.
This partnership lets us better champion workers’ interests and pursue policies that improve their lives. Concurrently, while the NTUC works to ensure Singapore’s workers share in Singapore’s economic growth and have a stake in our continued progress, our Party strives to keep Singapore running as efficiently as possible. We also step in to help Singaporeans when needed.
“Although incomes have risen steadily year by year, many households still feel the pressures of the cost of living. And the PAP Government is very conscious of this, and does its utmost to moderate pressures on households,” shared PM Lee.
A lean and efficient Government
The goods and service tax (GST) is up to 22 per cent in most other developed nations, impacting everyday activities like dining out and shopping. However, the PAP Government has kept the GST well below this level while still funding all government projects and programs effectively.
This is because our Party runs — and has always run — a lean and efficient Government. We have taken the difficult step to keep our tax rate as low as possible. As PM Lee outlined, by keeping low government spending and taxes, every Singaporeans worker can directly enjoy the fruits of his or her labour. Our citizens can decide how to spend with what we earn – on your children, your home or otherwise.
This freedom to choose, frankly, is better than having to pay a large share of one’s monthly salary towards taxes which provide supposedly ‘free’ services to the public. After all, a free public service is not without a cost and still has to be funded somewhat.
Cost-effective essential services
The PAP Government operates Singapore’s inherently costly essential public services — including public transport, water, electricity, education and healthcare — cost-effectively.
“In Singapore, we have avoided putting the whole burden on taxpayers. We require users to pay reasonable charges for these services. And we also require the operations to break even, and to earn a return — also known as a ‘profit’. Because that puts pressure on the operators to be efficient, to run in the best way which they can to keep their costs down,” said PM Lee. By incentivising efficiency and cost reduction, Singaporeans ultimately can benefit.
This approach, overall, has worked well. Singapore’s public transport system, for example, is one of the best in the world; at the same time our low fares are the envy of commuters in many other developed countries. And every Singaporean has access to affordable, high-quality healthcare.
Targeted, direct assistance
In spite of the best planning, some households will still need extra help. And the PAP Government is mindful of that while being responsible stewards of our country’s resources.
Assistance scales to households’ needs, totally $9000 this year for some with lower-income households being shielded from the effects of the GST hikes for a decade.
This targeted support is a better use of limited public funds than universal subsidies as the latter would disproportionately benefit high-usage household – often wealthier ones.
“We are keeping our public services financially sustainable and of a high standard in the long run. While in the short-term giving households get extra help according to their need, and sharing the burden fairly,” said PM Lee.
“This is how the PAP Government keeps faith with workers. We do right by them, through good times and bad.”