ge round 32: staying together, moving ahead

Have we been staying together and moving ahead...together? If we have, then it is a continuity and people must be very happy, moving ahead together. Have we, did we? If we haven't? What's wrong? Why now then we are saying this? The people have been staying together all these 40 years. There is no doubt on this one. Moving ahead? The nation has been moving ahead despite a few years of consolidation and standing still during the financial crisis. But the other question is whether the people are moving ahead. Some do. Some ran far far ahead. But many were left behind. Why were people been left behind? Was the govt conscious of it, or they have forgotten along the way that they need to bring the people along? Or Rip Van Winkle just woke up and discovers that many of the people are still struggling to get by. And now it is necessary to tell the people that we will move ahead together...during a general election. Would the govt forget again? I would suggest a better motto, less people forget their mission again. The pioneering leaders were very clear in what they want. Build the nation and serve the people. The later leaders did not forget to build the nation. But serving the people? The new motto shall be Serve the People. Not squeeze the People.


Anonymous said...

In order to serve the people, the govt has to squeeze them. let's face it, they need to get money for operating expenses somewhere. They can't get much from income and company taxes because our tax rates are one of the lowest in the world, and also because they want to continue attracting foreigners to come and work/set up businesses here. Who does that leave then ? The citizens of course who having been so conditioned with decades of iron-fisted rule will not let out even a whimper. Also citizens are stuck here come what may, not so foreign talents and businesses who can uproot themselves to somewhere else in a microsecond. We just ahve to accept it. It's our detsiny and the path we chose when we decided to strike it out on our own.

redbean said...

the people must not be deceived into believing that our income tax is among the lowest in the world. in reality our citizens pay the most tax in the form of gst.

this tax form is pervasive and taxes on everyone, young and old. and it taxes more heavily on the poor in percentage terms.

your great great grandfather pays gst. your unborn children, once conceived, pay gst.

that is how wide the net is cast and how much tax the people will pay.

Anonymous said...

GST is a consumption tax, not an income tax. The govt is not deceiving anybody. It is a fact that our income taxes are one of the lowest in the world.

Anonymous said...

redbean, the alternative to not having gst is higher income and corporate taxes, something not tenable at all in Singapore's case. Also, being a consumption tax, the amount of gst one pays is directly proportionate to the person's spending patterns. If you don't buy that $6k plasma TV, you won't have to pay the $300 GST. So, in a sense gst is a fairer tax system than higher income taxes which will affect all taxpayers regardless.

redbean said...

both system of taxation have their pros and cons. what is disturbing me about gst is that it is indiscriminating in the sense that everyone pays, rich or poor. and it is some kind of transfer of taxation from the rich to the poor.

a little modification to relieve the poor from too much gst on basic goods and services will be most welcome and equitable.

morally it is not right to tax more on the less able.

Anonymous said...

redbean, it all boils down to how to enforce those discriminating measures. By it's very nature, gst is meant to apply to all goods and services. If you exclude some basic goods and services from gst, then the rich will also benefit and even more I might add since it would be natural for the rich to use more water or consume more foodstuffs. is that 'morally' right then ?

Anonymous said...

redbean, you still haven't address my contention that this 'squeezing' is a result of our unique circumstances as a resource-poor, land-starved country. Do you agree ?

redbean said...

let me give you some examples of things that can be excluded to relieve the poorer segment of the population. eg public transport, rice, sugar, cooking oil, even a ration of essential services in the PUB bills be tax exempt. Never mind that the rich also enjoy these. the objective is that the poor need not have to shoulder them. let the able share a bit more of the tax burden from the poor.

under the old tax system, many of the lower income group do not pay any income tax. the same philosophy.

gst totally changes this concept.

our special circumstances may dictate us to do some things that are unique to us. but the reasoning must be reasonable and fair to the people. let me give you this atrocious reasoning for the high water fees that are being charged to singaporeans, something like $1 as opposed to what we are paying to malaysia. add in the processing and overhead, the total cost cannot be more than 50c.

the reason to charge such a high rate is to get singaporeans to get use to the high rates in what? how many years more to come before the current rate will be revised upwards?

can shell petrol tell the singaporeans that in 10 years time petrol will be $50 a litre. so to teach the motorists to conserve petrol usage, with immediate effect petrol price is now $30 a litre.

this is the kind of logic that has been shafted into the singaporeans under a one party dominance system.

now do i agree?

Anonymous said...

redbean, sorry to say this but your analogy is flawed. Shell is a commercial entity. If they price their petrol at $50 a litre, they'll go out of business in a nanosecond. PUB on the other hand is a government entity and operates a monopoly and the demand for water is inelastic. Shell wouldn't care less if they don't have any petrol to sell in 50 years time, they'll probably sell LPG or something. PUB on the other hand has the onerous burden of planning for our future water supply, when the water gareements with malaysia run out. they use that money to invest in desalination technology or newater plants.

On the tax issue, if you take out gst from those said goods and services, then neither the rich nor the poor will pay. Where will the money to cover the shortfall come from ? They can't raise income taxes because that runs contrary to the policy of attracting talented people to come and work here. If the deficit can't be plugged, the govt runs the risk of running a fiscal deficit year after year. What happens then ? We have to borrow to fund that budget deficit, which will put pressure on our balance of trade payments which will then put pressure on our currency.

redbean, no one likes to pay taxes but at the end of the day, the govt has to raise money somehow. Malaysia has their perpetual cash cow called Petronas. Australia is at the moment riding the wave of a commodities boom. Singapore has neither. The only money the govt can get is from its citizens.

redbean said...

The only money the govt can get is from its citizens.

i like this statement of yours. malaysia has oil to squeeze. australia got commodities to squeeze. we only got people to squeeze : )

the pub is a monopoly and has a right to squeeze. shell cannot. true. but i am referring to the excuse or justification given. not the squeeze part. give the people a more sensible reason.

as for gst, read carefully what i said. rice, oil, salt etc are the basic needs. and not high value stuff. public transport, basic services for the lower income. exempting these from gst will not greatly affect the coffer. the gst for high value items like houses, cars, consumer electronic goods. these constitute the bulk of the tax.

and look at the amount the govt is throwing out during this period, easily $10b. no there are enough taxes and income to go on without a budget deficit even if gst is removed from the items i mentioned.

at worst, don't have so much to throw back at the people. and no trade balance payment to worry about.

Anonymous said...

And my original point is that all these inconveniences are a result of Singapore's vulnerable state. Hand the govt reins to the WP,SDA or SDP and I'm willing to wager that nothing much will change. Unless they can somehow magically make oil come out from under the ground somewhere on the island that is.

redbean said...

if the day shall come when the opposition takes over, it will mean that there are enough good men to join them and be elected.

whoever takes over the govt will still have to work within the confines and limitations of what we are. and yes, unless they find oil, nothing much will change except the emphasis may change a little.

the civil servants and planners will still be there to do the bulk of the work to provide continuities.

Anonymous said...

I believe a change in govt in Singapore can only be brought by a freak election result. It's not as easy as the opposition having good candidates, more importantly it would require a mindset change in 70% of the electorate on a seismic scale. Not an easy thing to do.

redbean said...

you are right on this. not in the foreseeable future. if the opposition is to win the contest gradually over time, it is going to take quite a while.