SINGAPORE : Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam has reiterated that the goods and services tax (GST) will not be raised for at least another five years.

Mr Tharman said there is no need to raise the GST as Singapore’s budget is in a healthy state.

The GST was last raised from 5 per cent to 7 per cent in 2007.

Mr Tharman was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a community event in Jurong on Saturday.

He said: “As Finance Minister, I have made that very clear in Parliament that at least for the next five years – it does not mean we will raise it in five years’ time – but at least for five years, there is absolutely no reason to raise the GST, because this was the whole idea – we strengthen our revenue base in time. In fact, in the good years before the crisis, it came in very handy in the crisis but it is also going to come in handy in the next five years when we build our infrastructure in health, in infrastructure and we increase our support for the poor.

“Basically, the GST and changes to the constitution have provided us a lot addition to our revenue base. Firstly, it has provided us to react very forcefully during the crisis, it wasn’t just the draw on the reserves…we were very fortunate that we made the revenue changes in time so that we could react forcefully to help Singapore through the crisis and now post-crisis, it has helped us to build up our infrastructure, education, health, including continuous education and training.

“That was the original motivation for GST, help the poor more and prepare Singaporeans for the future through investment income, two very solid sources of revenue to help us in the years to come.”

Mr Tharman also said that his team is taking the opposition seriously, whether they are well-known or otherwise.

But he said that the People’s Action Party (PAP) team has a track record in Jurong, having made many improvements for the elderly, children and low-income families in the last 10 years.

Mr Tharman added that aside from national schemes, Jurong also has its own local schemes that have benefited the residents there, and so residents already know what the PAP can do more and that they can deliver on their promises.

– CNA/ms

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