E-commerce tax still being studied: Indranee

Need to be careful about way to do it, she says ahead of Budget

Senior Minister of State for Law and Finance Indranee Rajah told Money FM 89.3 yesterday that this year's Budget will also take a "strategic approach" towards jobs.
Senior Minister of State for Law and Finance Indranee Rajah told Money FM 89.3 yesterday that this year's Budget will also take a "strategic approach" towards jobs.ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID

An e-commerce tax is still in the works, with the Government studying the best way to implement it, said Senior Minister of State for Law and Finance Indranee Rajah.

This means shoppers can enjoy tax-free purchases made online for a while more, she told Money FM 89.3, Singapore's first and only business radio station, yesterday.

"It is certainly something we would like to do, but we have to be careful about how we do it because we have seen some other countries where they implemented it and then had to dismantle it because it didn't work out quite well," she said. "So that is something we are studying carefully. Keep shopping while you can."

Ms Indranee is partial to a spot of online shopping herself. She told the station, which launched last month, that her last Google search was British fashion e-retailer Asos.

She said in a Bloomberg interview last November that e-commerce would likely come under the tax regime, ensuring a more level playing field between bricks-and-mortar and online businesses.

Some observers have speculated that the goods and services tax (GST) will be raised in the upcoming Budget on Feb 19.

Ms Indranee noted that Singapore's tax system "is designed to be progressive", so lower-income households will be supported.

Previous GST hikes were always accompanied by an offset package to help the less well-off, she added.

Young families will continue to be supported in the Budget, Ms Indranee noted, with pre-school education and support for young children continuing to be a focus.

There will also be measures to build more supportive communities, especially for the elderly.

 

In the past few years, the Government has introduced the Pioneer Generation Package, Silver Support Scheme and Community Health Assist Scheme, all of which addressed "the monetary aspect", she said.

She noted that Britain has appointed a new Minister for Loneliness. In a similar vein, the Budget will seek to assure families with elderly parents that help is available through community support.

"It is zeroing in on a real problem - there are a lot of elderly who are lonely there, and it is not dissimilar here. So, you have to look at the intangible things and see how you can... address that," said Ms Indranee.

This year's Budget will also take a "strategic approach" towards jobs.

This means helping whole industries to innovate and transform, and helping workers retrain in new skills, she said.

For more Budget 2018 stories, go to str.sg/budget2018

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 08, 2018, with the headline 'E-commerce tax still being studied: Indranee'. Print Edition | Subscribe