I think our Finance Minister has been seating at the edge of his seat recently. With the GE2015 campaign in full swing, he has had a chance to hear most of the proposals laid out by various parties.
The first thing that seemed to have come to his mind was, “Where do we get the money from?”
This was perhaps the question that prompted him to speak at lengths about our national finances at the Bukit Panjang rally on Sept 5.
What’s got Tharman all hot and bothered
Getting here in just 50 years was not easy. It was only in this year’s budget, that we’ve started to max out our spending. In other words, this was the year we’ve shifted gears to allow for less to be transferred to our reserves to allow for more to be allocated to social spending.
So based on this, where do we get our money from for even more?
The question perhaps then is, is this enough? Let’s try to do this without bringing in overseas comparisons. According to Tharman, Singapore is a country that tries to be fair.
Fairness in his philosophy was guided as such:
#1 We will not pushing the burden to the next generation
#2 We don’t overburden the middle income groups
#3 We try to give the benefits to lower income groups
#4 We will not over tax the upper income groups unfairly
While some may feel otherwise, Singapore has a progressive tax system that taxes the upper income more. His example of this was healthcare; where more subsidies were allotted to the lower income groups.
To prove this, he revealed that:
For every dollar contributed by the upper income group in taxes, they get back $0.20 in subsidies.
For every dollar contributed by the middle income group in taxes, they get back $1.30 in subsidies.
For every dollar contributed by the lower income group in taxes, they get back $2.00 in subsidies.
An almost robinhood-esque system of fairness? Possibly.
But can we do more?
Will we break the bank in doing so? Would the application of other proposals that call for even more social spending result in increased costs to the middle income group? We only know for sure that Tharman thinks so.
Watch his speech below.