Excerpts from readers' letters

KEEP HEALTHCARE AFFORDABLE

Healthcare spending has more than doubled and more will be allocated towards this in view of the ageing population.

This is good, but some concerns which the Ministry of Health (MOH) should look into are:

  • The spending of money to build medical buildings that look like five-star hotels. Could this money be better spent on staff, facilities and subsidies?
  • Medical charges in government hospitals. They should always be lower than in private hospitals. If government hospitals charge higher, even the subsidies do not mean much.

We hope that the Health Ministry will ensure that with the increase in its budget they will remember what the founding fathers had promised - affordable healthcare for citizens.

Maybe MOH should form a committee comprising the man on the street to assist in this area, not people in the healthcare industry.

David Soh Poh Huat


RELOOK HIKE IN MAID LEVY

The increase to the foreign domestic worker levy as announced in Budget 2018 is disappointing especially for those paying non-subsidised levies. The new levy for the first maid is $300, up from the present $265.

Having a foreign domestic worker these days is not a luxury, but a necessity. And, it is not only those with young and older family members who require domestic help.

With the cost of living in Singapore being exorbitantly high, both husband and wife need to work to earn enough for the family. Raising the levy just increases the burden of trying to do this.

I hope the Government will relook this.

Besides the levy, employers of domestic help also have other expenses to think of like the maid's wages, accommodation, meals, and medical expenses.

Kumar Pillay Thangavalu


CONSIDER OTHER REVENUE SOURCES

The case for more social spending is strong, and the Government is prudent in making provisions for it.

But is raising the goods and services tax (GST) to 9 per cent the only way to fund it in the future?

How about the proceeds of government land sales, and development charges for lease top-ups from collective sales, as additional sources of government revenue?

I understand these proceeds do not form part of government revenue in the Budget, but go straight into the reserves.

Should these proceeds remain as off-Budget revenue? Or, should they be part of government revenue, so we can stave off the GST hike for the man on the street?

Abdul Malek bin Mohamed Ali


TAXES MUSTN'T BURDEN THE POOR

Every year, the Singapore Budget strives to be different, but still geared towards promoting businesses and caring for society.

Budget 2018 follows the same pattern.

But, to keep up with the changing times and the cost of living, means-testing should be regularly updated so that the lower income group do not fall through the cracks.

Prudence in financial spending should be observed, more so for mega projects as these will impact expenditure in other areas.

As expected, indirect taxes such as the goods and services tax will be raised, but not implemented earlier than 2021.

While the delayed move may appear to pacify consumers, some quarters are questioning the need given the surpluses. This may come with a political cost.

There are signs that income divide and class status are surfacing, if a recent survey is anything to go by. We should treat this growing phenomenon with utmost care.

In 1964, then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew gave an impassioned speech on society's haves and have-nots, in which he said that the haves should pay more through direct taxation of income, capital gains and profits rather than indirect taxes, which are spread over the whole community equally, thus making the have-nots pay more in proportion to their incomes.

Andrew Seow Chwee Guan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 22, 2018, with the headline 'Excerpts from readers' letters'. Print Edition | Subscribe