Highlight optimistic ideal of tax increase

Recently, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that "raising tax is not a matter of whether, but a matter of when" (Tax increase 'must be handled with caution'; Nov 21).

In Singapore, it is already an accepted proposition that the Government should bear the majority of healthcare cost. However, this is despite its contradictory low-tax position.

In the light of consistent budget deficits, the Government has been trying to resolve this contradiction by planning for and pre-empting tax hikes. With a sharp rise in healthcare spending as predicted by our Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat, the need to resolve the contradiction is also emphasised.

A tax increase is a tricky affair because it costs political capital.

However, the Government can do more than simply explain the constraints that it is facing to offset it. Rather than focusing so much on the costs and needs, the Government can do more to explain the benefits.

No, I'm not referring to the obvious ones such as alleviating the burden on the younger generation or better healthcare standards - these are either too dull or pessimistic to be appealing.

What we need is a model to aspire towards in order to optimistically present the benefits.

According to the 2017 World Happiness Report, the Scandinavian countries rank among the top 10 while Singapore is in the 26th position.

Surely aspiring to be more content and happy with life in Singapore is a goal that Singaporeans can share?

Of course, there is more than just high taxes and extensive social support - such as "free" healthcare - in the formula of happiness in the Scandinavian countries.

Nonetheless, it is one of the ingredients and it serves as a good starting point.

Since high taxes are already an inevitable outcome in Singapore, why not optimistically strive towards something greater, beyond a dull and pessimistic need to meet the costly demand of an ageing population?

Jackson Lian

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 08, 2017, with the headline 'Highlight optimistic ideal of tax increase'. Print Edition | Subscribe