Slash GST to 0%: former presidential candidate demands at Budget 2018 forum


Four civil society players came together yesterday, at a forum organised by The Independent and human rights NGO Maruah, to discuss their beliefs on what the nation’s economic direction should be for the next year.

The panellists – The Independent’s publisher Kumaran Pillai, Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) chairman Dr Paul Tambyah, former presidential candidate Tan Kin Lian, and Maruah president Leong Sze Hian – shared their views on where the government should place economic emphasis, ahead of Budget 2018 which will be delivered by Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat next week.

Tan Kin Lian touched on four main points, during the talk, that he feels the government should take note of as it structures the economy.

Tan feels that the government should be focused on improving the welfare of the people. A good indicator of whether the people are happy is the birth rate, according to Tan, as he feels a high birth rate is a good measure of the people’s quality of life.

In order to improve the people’s quality of life, the government must reduce the Goods and Services Tax (GST) instead of raising it. Tan advocated that the government scrap the GST altogether as he feels the government can afford to do without this tax, in the interest of improving the quality of Singaporeans’ lives and help alleviate some of their stress.

Tan added that slashing the GST to 0 per cent will improve the people’s quality of life by 9-10 per cent, since they will not only be exempt from paying the 7 per cent GST, but there since the costly implementation charges that is required to impose GST will be cut out.

Second, Tan said that the government should overhaul the healthcare system. He shared a story of a Singaporean woman who was hospitalised as she was suffering an ailment related to her heart. The woman though that she was covered by private shield but when her hospital bill came, the insurance company refused to cover it since the policy the woman took has a clause that there is no coverage for heart disorders.

The hospital bill was a whopping $700,000.

The insurance company entered arbitration with the patient. In an unfortunate turn of events, not only did the company win the arbitration but the woman was also ordered to bear the arbitration bill of $300,000, leaving her with a total $1 million bill.

Tan urged the authorities to look into such cases and overhaul the healthcare system to better benefit Singaporeans.

Third, Tan criticised the amount of money that is allocated to national defense each year. He questioned whether Singapore still needed to focus so much on national defense since we have “cooperative neighbours”.

The 2011 presidential candidate also spoke about the price men serving National Service pay since they have to ostensibly put their lives on hold for two years while they complete mandatory conscription. Tan believes that even after completing National Service, these men will have a price to pay since they will be at least two years behind their female and foreigner peers and face increased competition.

Finally, Tan criticised the amount of money the government spends on infrastructure. He said that the government spent $100 million on an MRT signalling system that keeps breaking down and now plans to spend $550 million to overhaul the ERP system. Tan questioned why so much money has to be spent revising this system which presently works well

Tan also pointed to new MRT lines that are being built as big ticket items that will play a part in future budgets and questioned whether the authorities have conducted adequate cost benefit analyses before implementing such plans.

He concluded that it remains to be seen whether the government will address these concerns during the Budget and indicated that he does not have very much hope that the authorities will do so.

Of the four panellists, statistician and socio-political activist Leong Sze Hian was perhaps the most pessimistic about the upcoming budget. His full comments are coming up shortly.

Don’t use aging population as an excuse to raise taxes: SDP chairman on Budget 2018

Old wine in new bottle solutions will not work anymore: Budget 2018 Forum panellists


  1. There is a Country where their Countrymen has got lesser to eat but their government insists on nuclear development! At least theirs are to defend against the West. Who are we defending against?

    • our politicians shouldn’t wear such a big hat when their head isn’t that big considering most of them have no common sense and their words always contradicts each others’

  2. actually this is quite feasible. when cost of living goes down, people will consume more, businesses will see increase in revenue, their profits go up, and even though corporate tax rates stay the same, tax revenue will still go up from corporate side, as the pie got larger.

  3. Too much spend on defence. Time to cut it. GST for basic food items n medicines must be removed. Put additional tax on luxury goods. The gap between haves and have not seen growing wider. This Pro Rich Elitist government is sucking everyone’s blood.

  4. Critical thinking is an important skill in today’s world. One that allows an increase in employability and allows you to understand what exactly people are saying.

  5. Slash GST to 0%??? This news is like a Volcanic Eruption cum Tsunami just strike kind of news to them.Tell them increase GST by another 13% and they will feel like they are in Heaven.

  6. We have spent billions and billions or weapons but where is the perceived enemy? Waited for an enemy over the last 50 years. Oh they say it is a precaution. Do you believe this shit. There is no need for an expensive military outfit. Somebody is actually making money from all of these. So if you think our leadership is not corrupt think again.

  7. Slashing GST to 0% in a perfect and fair world would mean that prices would go down by 7%, and 9% increase in happiness is assured. But… This is not a perfect and fair world, it would not reduce anything by 7%. Businesses will just pass the savings to their profit margin. So that would mean no increase in quality of living.

    Cost of living is indeed to high, curbs and checks has to be done.

    Problem with businesses are taught that they need to earn more, earn faster, and pay less. High expense ticket items such as car, clothes, luxury goods are what makes one more credible and look good in business. Expensive housing, expensive cars are what is driving our cost of living up.

  8. Spend the nation’s money and conscripts’ aspirations on a career playground, still end up cannot produce anything more than Chan Chun Sing and Desmind Kwek.

    There’s gotta be a cheaper way to produce national S1s and MTOs!

  9. When citizens become in-work poor they tend to donate less and new strategy comes into play. MSL, CPFL, eldershield are all structured so everyone share in taking care of the needy.

  10. Nope. What’s needed is to have a 30% reduction on all the indirect taxes. Abolish the property tax for all HDB dwellers as they don’t own anything.
    Liquidate Temask and prohibit the successor companies from ever getting CPF. CPF board needs to be an independent entity free from govt control but under parlimentary oversight.

    Allow companies and individuals to decide how much to invest with CPF board and how much with private funds. Why not give ordinary Singaporeans the same access to the country’s expertise in wealth management?

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