This Is How A Minister Answers A Question In Parliament?

I posed a question to Lawrence Wong, “How much additional GST burden will be borne by the three groups of Singaporeans – top 20%, middle 60% (middle-class) and bottom 20%?” As the 2% GST hike is expected to yield $3 billion to $3.5 billion of additional tax revenue, and Heng Swee Keat once said that foreigners and the top 20% pay 60% of the GST, I assume that the remaining 40% is paid mostly by the middle-class. Since 40% of $3 billion is $1.2 billion, I asserted that middle-class Singaporeans will bear additional $1.2 billion of tax burden after the hike.

On 28 February, LW agreed to confirm if that figure was correct. But on 2 March, he merely provided the histogram chart shown at the end.

Does the chart tell us the absolute tax burden? Are we expected to calculate the absolute tax burden from these ratios? Notice that the presentation of the third quintile (middle 20%) give the impression that the middle-class pay less GST than the top 20%.

Whereas the middle-class spans over the second quintile and fourth quintile, the respective shares are not given. Without those data on the respective shares, you will not be able to calculate the tax burden. Isn’t this response from LW more like a red herring?

Fortunately, we have painstakingly tracked all the Ministers’ statements and are able to arrive at $1.2 billion with Heng Swee Keat’s previous input.

This is a typical example of an evasive answer given by a Minister. But to top it all, he has claimed that “my persistent requests for more information are red herrings.” (恶人先告状)

I am gobsmacked! We shall let people be the judge.

Singaporeans deserve better.

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