20140616 Forget about any more CPF dialogue, Hri Kumar confirms government not listening

I refer to this short video clip of PAP MP Hri Kumar’s engagement with his constituents. link

Retiree Ng Leng Hui, 70, commented that he is not on the side of the government because of the unfairness towards CPF members and that the government has “shifted everything, you have never listened to us. We’ve tried many times, no listening.”

If Kumar is not hard of hearing, he should not have evaded the issue by claiming the “real question in this debate is what do we do with a large number of people …who will not be able to survive on $300 a month?”

Kumar is clutching at straws to maintain the CPF status quo. Our CPF is trapped in GIC from age 55 to 65, which means having $0 during the first 10 years of retirement. If one cannot “survive on $300 a month”, does Kumar expect a miracle with $0??

When Kumar’s constituents told him about the unfairness and other issues, all he did was throw a question back at them! Engagement PAP style?

Kumar then engaged in fear mongering and said that in order to take care of retirees, we need to have a system where “everyone pays more taxes”.

Madam Ng was quick to rebut and said the government already has the money after collecting indirect taxes like “GST, ERP, COE…” so why the need for more taxes?

Kumar was really lost and asked if there’s “any country in the world that charges as low a tax as we do, and yet provides solid safety net as you are suggesting, then maybe that is the model we should look at”. Singapore has low taxes, really? Kumar should get his facts right before firing a question to evade the issue. Let’s take a look at some of our direct and indirect taxes. (Table below)

Low Singapore taxes: myth or  lie?

TAXES 2004 2014 INCREASE
PERSONAL $3.84 B $8.79 B $4,950,000,000
GST $3.8 B $10.11 B $7,310,000,000
COE $1.49 B $2.95 B $1,460,000,000
TOTAL $10.3 B $21.85 B $13,720,000,000
CORPORATE $6.57 B $13.03 B $6,560,000,000

2004 Budget 2014 Budget

Excluding other taxes, GST and COE revenues increased by $7.77 billion since 2004. Corporate income tax almost doubled and personal income tax more than doubled.

Kumar has attempted to mislead by claiming that Singaporeans pay low taxes and taxes have to increased further after they have already more than doubled during the last decade!

So Madam Ng has outsmarted Kumar and she is right about the government having collected massive taxes over the years. The problem lies with the allocation of state resources.

Score:
Madam Ng: 1, MP Kumar: 0

Where did our tax revenue go?

Our total tax revenue has increased by about $31 billion since 2004. However, the number of citizens has increased by about 246,000 since 2004. (see Time Series, Population)

Tax revenues have increased by a disproportionately large amount compared to the increase in the population of citizens. If tax revenues are not to benefit citizens, then what is the objective? For GIC and Temasek to invest? Kumar should get his facts right before trying to bully his constituents with evasive questions.

Madam Ng had actually hit the CPF nail on Kumar’s head when she highlighted the massive amount of indirect taxes collected by the government. Part of this must be used for the welfare of vulnerable groups like the disabled, homeless, retirees, etc.

Conclusion

As can be seen from the video clip, Kumar is not interested in listening to his constituents. Instead, Kumar turned the tables on his constituents for a solution to our broken CPF system. Kumar has remained disconnected from the issues of ordinary citizens, is evasive and has shown his preference for the CPF status quo to remain.

The CPF system urgently needs a revamp. The government would do well to address the CPF issue and not waste citizens’ time with distractions like MP Kumar.

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