Evolve own tax system that fits conditions here

I do not agree with Mr Jackson Lian that we should follow the Scandinavian countries for our system of taxation (Highlight optimistic ideal of tax increase; Dec 8).

Each country is unique.

Singapore's social structure is different. We have high home ownership, a comprehensive Central Provident Fund scheme and a reliance on investments from foreign countries.

We should evolve our own system to fit our own conditions.

So far, we are doing very well. But we need to fine-tune things as we move along.

Instead of simply increasing the income tax rate, we should think of other ways of indirect taxation, so that they are directed at the rich and are not a burden on the poor.

This will go a long way towards balancing the disparity in income.

It is right to tax on what a person spends, rather than what he earns, so as not to dull the incentive to work and be productive.

Although the goods and services tax (GST) affects the poor more than the rich, the system of giving subsidies to the poor via GST vouchers is a sound one.

The principle of self-help is also serving Singapore well.

Some form of co-payment for healthcare is necessary to minimise overuse. Using health insurance rather than a full government subsidy is a workable solution.

This prevents the "crutch" mentality that is causing problems in other countries.

Tax is a necessary evil. It is important that the Government makes its policy transparent and explains the principles and sentiment behind how the tax is derived and how it is to be spent.

In this way, we can evolve our taxation system rather than simply copy others.

George Wong Seow Choon (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 11, 2017, with the headline 'Evolve own tax system that fits conditions here'. Print Edition | Subscribe