JAN 2 — New Year, new goals?
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Long delivered his annual New Year message on Friday night.
Ushering Singapore into 2022, the prime minister emphasised that this year would be one of transition.
According to him, Singapore will have to transition away from the pandemic era with economic recovery increasingly taking centre stage.
Anticipating economic growth of three to five per cent in 2022, PM Lee indicated that Covid support measures which have been a lifeline for many Singapore businesses will be rolled back over the course of 2022.
A return to growth will be the priority for Singapore over the next year while the nation continues to keep a watchful eye on the pandemic.
Crucially he also made clear that GST would be increased. GST tax is applied to the vast majority of goods. A rise in GST impacts virtually everyone in the country but again the prime minister seems to believe Singapore now has the resilience to withstand higher taxation as the government looked to stabilise its finances after a huge bout of spending on businesses and families through the pandemic.
There was also an emphasis on national unity with Singaporeans urged to “stay united as one people and one Singapore.”
It is time to put Covid behind us and focus on strengthening the economy, and national unity. These are always priorities in our nation.
As ever the sentiments seem to be in the right direction but do the PM and his government have the stomach for real and fundamental change? We have seen that the pandemic prompted the government to take drastic action. It unlocked billions of dollars and changed daily life for the nation.
But inequality and diminishing national unity ultimately pose more of an existential challenge to Singapore than Covid — they too will need a drastic response.
Are the prime minister and his team capable of mounting such a response?
I guess we will find out in 2022.
*This is the personal opinion of the columnist.