Ong Ye Kung: "No room for far-right populist politics in Singapore"

Aug 23, 2021 | 🚀 Fathership AI

Singapore’s approach to running its economy, which is being open to the world, “has not and will not change”, said Health Minister Ong Ye Kung on Friday (Aug 20).

This means it still welcomes, facilitates and protects foreign investments. It will also continue to complement its local workforce with foreign talent, and work to fortify and expand its network of free trade agreements, he said.

He was addressing members of the European Chamber of Commerce (EuroCham) in Singapore in a speech in which he assured his audience of the Republic's continued commitment to staying open to the world.

No room for far-right populist politics in Singapore

“We are too small to survive on our own and we must tap into global markets,” Mr Ong said.

"In Singapore, there have been attempts to use free trade agreements... to whip up anti-foreigner sentiments and seed xenophobia in our society," the minister said.

He and other Cabinet ministers have taken to Parliament to defend such agreements, as openness is a fundamental value for the ruling party, he said.

But he also acknowledged the downsides of globalisation, including heightened competition from foreign manpower and the over-concentration of foreigners in certain sectors or firms.

"We will deal robustly with these problems. If we don't, resentments will grow, and there will be fertile ground for far-right populist politics to gather strength," Mr Ong added. "We are determined to never let such politics take root here."

Singapore already greatly affected by tighter border controls

With its extensive flight links to 160 cities, cosmopolitan workforce and strategic position in Asia, Singapore has long banked on its connectivity and reputation for openness to attract investments, jobs and tourism dollars that have buttressed its economy.

But this has been tested in Covid-19 times, with flight links, for instance, down to 70 as at end-May.

Already, fatigue is starting to set in as firms here grapple with the long-term impact of tight border controls and other restrictions that have severely affected Singapore's links to the rest of the world.

Foreign employees are unable to travel home as they fear not being allowed to return as a result of border controls, and this has taken a toll on their mental health. Disruptions to supply chains and business operations have also affected cash flow, leading to investments being put on pause.

The current border restrictions may also worsen manpower constraints and inhibit firms' ability to expand and invest in future production in the long term, if they remain unchanged, OCBC chief economist Selena Ling notes.

"Right and prudent" approach

Mr Ong noted that some countries or regions have adopted very tight border measures and have been very safe with low infection numbers. But it is difficult to sustain this for a prolonged period as people will get tired of the frequent lockdowns and travel bans.

“While there were many inconveniences due to social restrictions, by and large, life could carry on normally,” he added, noting that schools stayed opened, while restaurants and attractions operated most of the time.

“More importantly, our hospitals were never overwhelmed and we had relatively few deaths. However, our border controls were quite strict and were further tightened during periods when local infections spiked.

“So there is no country or region in the world that has been both free of restrictions and safe from COVID-19. Singapore has to weigh carefully between preserving lives and livelihoods,” said Mr Ong.

“That is why we took the measures we did, including painful ones, so as to keep the country safe from COVID-19. If we had opened up recklessly, then we would not be Singapore anymore," he added.

Towards the end of his speech, Mr Ong said Singapore is “in a new position” today due to the population coming forward “in big numbers” to get vaccinated. This came about due to a “strong trust amongst people and between people and Government”, he said.

He also thanked the country’s foreign partners for “bearing up with all the inconveniences and heartaches” of the past 18 months, and hoped that they continue to work with the Government as Singapore transits to becoming a "COVID-19 resilient nation".


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新加坡政府坚持提高消费税(GST),尽管税收负担较低且公共服务质量高,引发国民的欢欣鼓舞。

Mar 05, 2023 | 🚀 Fathership AI

新加坡副总理黄循财于2月24日在国会2023年度预算案辩论闭幕时,为新加坡低税负担和紧缩的财政立场辩护。他强调,新加坡需要在2024年进行第二次商品和服务税(GST)上调,以照顾不断增长的老年人口。

新加坡税负低

相比其他发达的经济体,新加坡的税收占国内生产总值(GDP)比率要低得多,仅为14%。这种低税负奖励辛勤工作的员工和企业,让人民和企业能够保留大部分所得。

增加政府收入的替代方案

反对党提出了替代收入来源,包括财富税、公司税和土地销售收入。然而,黄循财表示,在确保新加坡的健全和稳定的公共财政下,需要对收入、消费和资产征收混合税。财富税在现实中难以实行;公司税则面临竞争;将土地销售收益视为租约期间收入分割不太可能产生更多相比新加坡今时今日已获得的收入。

 社会流动和解决不平等问题的必要性

在周三的开幕演讲中,反对党领袖毕丹星警告说,在没有采取更多措施解决不平等问题的情况下,将出现“两个新加坡”。在他周五的闭幕演讲中,黄循财回应了呼吁采取更多行动以解决不平等问题的呼声。为确保低薪工人的实际工资可持续增长,国人需要为他们的同胞提供的服务支付更多费用来增加工资。

结论

 新加坡副总理黄循财为上调GST辩护,并强调了对收入、消费和资产征收混合税以提供新加坡健全与稳定的公共财政的必要性。他还回应了呼吁采取更多行动解决不平等问题的呼声,以确保社会流动仍然是“健全而有活力”。


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