SINGAPORE - Parliament approved the Budget on Thursday (March 1), even as Workers' Party MPs said they did not support the proposed hike in the goods and services tax (GST).
In a vote to approve the Government's financial policy for the year, 89 MPs said "yes" while eight MPs - all from the WP - said "no".
WP MP Sylvia Lim (Aljunied GRC) said that while the party approved of the measures that are to be implemented within the current Budget, it did not support the planned increase in the GST, which is going to take place only some time between 2021 and 2025.
"We cannot support the announcement at this point in time," she said in a clarification in Parliament.
She noted that Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat had said the Government has not yet determined when the GST hike would kick in, as that would depend on economic conditions, the buoyancy of Singapore's tax revenues and its spending needs.
"Fair enough," she said. "Similarly, I don't think we will be in a position to take a stand on that until the information is available at the relevant point in time, so I think it's ridiculous for the Government to expect us as a responsible party to support something where all the information is still not available and we don't have a crystal ball."
Mr Heng replied that the vote was on the Government's broader financial policy, and asked for a division - for MPs to vote through a device at their seats instead of voting by voice as usual.
The WP has six elected MPs and three non-constituency MPs. With the exception of WP MP Low Thia Khiang, who was not in Parliament when the vote took place, all the WP MPs voted "No".
In delivering the latest Budget, Mr Heng had said it was not simply an accounting exercise but a "strategic and integrated plan for the future", laying out a multi-year plan to transform the Singapore economy, build a caring and resilient society and find efficient and sustainable means to fund the Republic's long-term spending needs.