Progress Singapore Party makes first public policy proposal since formation

In a photo taken on July 26, Dr Tan Cheng Bock announces the new Progress Singapore Party at a press conference. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

SINGAPORE - The Progress Singapore Party (PSP) has announced some of its policy proposals, the first time it has done so since its formation last year.

Among its economic policies released on Wednesday (Feb 12) are a "No to GST hike" policy and that long-term infrastructure projects not be funded by an increase in taxes.

The party, started and led by former People's Action Party stalwart Tan Cheng Bock, has held its cards close to its chest on both its policies and the areas it wants to contest in at the general election.

On Wednesday, it unveiled a set of proposals ahead of Budget 2020, which will be delivered by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Heng Swee Keat on Feb 18.

"In the immediate future, we advise against a further rise in the goods and services tax (GST) or any other fees, at least in the next five years," the party said in a statement.

"Our strong financial standing should give us the courage to address with sustainable longer-term policies the mounting concerns of Singaporeans on issues such as rising cost of living, housing and healthcare costs; competition for jobs from non-Singaporeans; retirement inadequacy; as well as rising social inequality."

It also said long-term infrastructural projects, like Changi Airport Terminal 5, should be based on the private firms' own financial and commercial merit, and not require tax increases to fund them.

"Of course, those projects with a large social benefit component should be given different consideration," it added.

The party also said it "welcomes the Government's immediate short-term relief to assist Singaporeans and local companies" in light of the ongoing coronavirus situation, but called for a more "broad-based" approach in helping not just the tourism sector, but also the transport, retail and food and beverage industries.

Other policy proposals include "more effective use" of the national Budget surpluses and sovereign wealth funds, such as conducting a review of the Singapore education system.

The party also opposed short-term occasional handouts, in favour of more "permanent plans".

The PSP had said during its first walkabout in September last year that its policy team consists of more than 30 members and is headed by assistant treasurer Hazel Poa.

She said back then that the party's policies and manifesto would not address all of the issues that were raised at the party launch in August, such as voting age and ministerial salaries.

PSP assistant secretary-general Leong Mun Wai said: "We are experiencing the strongest economic headwinds since the global financial crisis and arguably a long overdue economic transformation, which combined makes Budget 2020 a very important one."

The PSP's policy proposal announcement is the second one by an opposition political party recently, with the Singapore Democratic Party launching its 39-page climate change policy paper last Saturday.

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