Explore alternatives to lower cost and raise revenue

The talk on the streets is that a rise in the Goods and Services Tax (GST) can be expected (GST hike looms as Singapore's funding needs grow; Nov 21).

It is a move many would disagree with.

A GST hike would hurt low-income families and businesses like hawkers who would have to shell out more for ingredients and utilities.

Raising GST may also depress consumer spending, putting downward pressure on the economy.

Instead of raising taxes, perhaps a comprehensive review of government expenditure could be done to find ways to cut unnecessary costs.

For instance, the duration of National Service and reservist training could be reviewed without compromising on training.

Publicity material and marketing collateral for government events could be designed to be reused rather than thrown away after events.

Alternative ways to raise money while deriving social benefits should also be explored. For example, a sugar tax could reduce the consumption of sugar and risk of diabetes.

A tax on waste would further incentivise companies to reduce waste generated, thus extending the lifespan of the Semakau landfill.

Financial transaction taxes on the buying and selling of stocks could also reduce short-term speculation.

Tan Yi Han

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 23, 2017, with the headline 'Explore alternatives to lower cost and raise revenue'. Print Edition | Subscribe