GST support package to help all Singaporean households

DPM Heng Swee Keat speaks during the PAP 65 Awards and Convention at the Singapore Expo, on Nov 10, 2019.
DPM Heng Swee Keat speaks during the PAP 65 Awards and Convention at the Singapore Expo, on Nov 10, 2019.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

A support package will help cushion the impact of an impending hike in the goods and services tax (GST) from 7 per cent to 9 per cent for all Singaporean households, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat said.

Details will be given in next year's Budget, in February, and more will be given to the lower-income, he added yesterday.

Speaking at the People's Action Party convention, Mr Heng, who is also the Finance Minister, stressed that the package is not an "election goodie" as it will be given only when the GST is raised in the next term of government.

He acknowledged concerns over the hike, given the economic outlook, adding: "We want to assure you that there will be help during the transition, so that Singaporeans need not worry, or be riled up by the opposition who wants to find something to get people to be angry."

Explaining the GST hike, which he announced two years ago, Mr Heng said a responsible government has to ensure enough resources well into the future, such as for healthcare and education needs.

Speaking after Mr Heng, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong noted that very few governments will say before an election that they plan to raise taxes. "We had to do the right and responsible thing: to be upfront with voters, to explain why the GST increase is unavoidable, and to give lots of advance notice," he said.

"We are also making sure the opposition cannot stir this up - you can be sure they will try - by announcing the support package early," he added.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 11, 2019, with the headline 'GST support package to help all S'porean households'. Print Edition | Subscribe