Singapore GE: SDA manifesto seeks cut in GST to 3pc on basic items, more spending on disadvantaged youths

Members of the Singapore Democratic Alliance contesting Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC in GE2020 are (clockwise from top left): Abu Mohamed, Desmond Lim Bak Chuan, Harminder Pal Singh, Kelvin Ong and Kuswadi Atnawi. — Reuters pic
Members of the Singapore Democratic Alliance contesting Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC in GE2020 are (clockwise from top left): Abu Mohamed, Desmond Lim Bak Chuan, Harminder Pal Singh, Kelvin Ong and Kuswadi Atnawi. — Reuters pic

SINGAPORE, June 30 — The Singapore Democratic Alliance’s (SDA) manifesto issued yesterday called for the Goods and Services Tax (GST) to be cut to 3 per cent on basic goods and for increased spending on disadvantaged children and youths, among other proposals.

The eight-page manifesto, titled “SDA: A Heart for the People”, issued ahead of the July 10 General Election (GE), highlights four areas in which the party feels that Singaporeans are struggling.

SDA said it has received feedback over the “pain of bad policies” from residents it has spoken to after 13 years of walking the ground in Pasir Ris-Punggol Group Representation Constituency, which the party will be contesting at the GE.

The grievances include: The loss of good jobs for young Singaporeans, which the party blames on Singapore’s “lax immigration policies”, a spike in the cost of living, the Central Provident Fund (CPF) savings scheme, which it calls a “broken retirement scheme”, and the widening inequality gap in Singapore.

SDA has come up with four policy proposals to tackle these issues. Here is an overview:

Reducing GST to 3pc on basic items

SDA said an increase in GST will “devastate low — to middle-income Singaporeans who are already grappling with the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.”

The Singapore government has said the GST is set to rise from 7 per cent to 9 per cent some time between 2022 and 2025.

SDA is proposing to cut GST for basic items such as food, common household products and other essential items to 3 per cent.

It also proposed introducing a progressive GST tax system of 3 per cent to 15 per cent, where basic goods are taxed the least and luxury items are taxed the most.

SDA has also proposed to cut spending on “extravagant public projects”, listing examples such as the upcoming Founders’ Memorial, Jewel Changi Airport and Ng Teng Fong General Hospital.

“While development of new infrastructure is necessary, expenditure must be exercised with prudence — especially when long-term maintenance costs are taken into account,” it said.

It proposed “a more stringent set of checks” prior to the approval of expenditure on such projects. The savings from these can be channeled to the people instead, said SDA.

Tackling social inequality

SDA proposes that an extra 1 to 5 per cent of the Singapore government’s annual Net Investment Returns (NIR) be channelled towards helping youths from disadvantaged families. The NIR are returns from Singapore’s national investments.

“A fraction of this would go a long way to helping over 100,000 disadvantaged Singaporean families break the poverty cycle,” it said.

Some areas where SDA said disadvantaged youths can stand to benefit from additional funding include modern technological equipment, conducive after-school care at dedicated centres near their homes, and having caregivers and tutors to motivate and coach them.

Fixing ‘broken’ CPF retirement scheme

SDA is also proposing to amend the current CPF system by allowing the elderly to withdraw the full sum of their CPF savings as soon as they turn 62, which is the current retirement age.

“It is better to die than to fall ill. This speaks multitudes for the plight of ageing Singaporeans,” the manifesto states.

“Not only must (the elderly) toil into their twilight years, they fear being a financial burden to their children,” it wrote.

However, the party added that a component of this sum should be reserved for MediSave and MediShield Life as a reserve to fund emergency healthcare costs.

Changes to Singapore’s immigration policies

The SDA is also calling for stricter qualifying criteria for local firms which are seeking to hire foreign working professionals.

The party is proposing to restrict the number of foreign working professionals that a company can hire and to ensure that these individuals come from universities that are accredited by the Singapore Government.

It also proposes to tighten the labour auditing process to prevent local firms from abusing the employment system by hiring “phantom” local staff so that they can hire more foreign workers. — TODAY

Related Articles