Singapore Minister of Finance Lawrence Wong stated on March 2 that the city-state needs to increase its goods and services tax (GST) rate due to the essential and inevitable spending of the government on health services.
A timely demand to raise the healthcare budget
The minister has spoken in the Parliament to discuss this year’s required budget for the ministry. He said, this change is influenced by the quick rise of the aging population in the country, in which more senior citizens are expected to live longer and thus need more medical care.
According to the studies conducted, Singapore had recorded around 10,000 individuals aged 90 and above in 2010. Today, the number has doubled up to 22,000, and it is expected to increase more by the year 2030.
Senior citizens need more medical assistance, this includes hospital admittance which tends to have a longer duration than they do for younger individuals. Also, they need voluntary operations, such as surgery for cataracts, to aid them to live a much more enjoyable life, Mr. Wong stated.
“More increases are needed as new and more expensive treatments become available, and with the medical inflation that is going on it is necessary even with the most effective and structured healthcare system,” he added.
The minister also said that even though the increase in healthcare cost is the main driving force for the necessary expenditure of Singapore, there are also other needs that must be met too.
Today, the social demands are getting more complex, with government organizations being forced to customize their solutions to accommodate the unique difficulties that are being confronted by the people and their families. The proper funding is also required to ensure that there is a solid coordination between agencies inside and outside the public sectors, and also to train the individuals in these sectors.
Proper budget allocation is needed
In the speech Mr. Wong also responded to the statements made by Progress Singapore Party (PSP) Non-Constituency MPs Leong Mun Wai and Hazel Poa, he also requested the government to spend less in some specific areas.
He specifically mentioned that those people have failed to recognize their frequent demand to the Government to make unnecessary spending.
“A few of these unnecessary expenditures are appointing more teachers, spending on expensive warfare equipment, increasing the budget on costly insurance programs. All of these are more expensive than needed. This means you can’t just waste this money on all of these unnecessary fundings,” he added.
Making comparisons with other developed nations, Mr. Wong emphasized that Singapore has been like operating a tight and small ship, and yet it has managed to handle the challenges despite all of that.
Over the last decade, the expenditure of the Government has increased from 15 percent to 18 percent of the total domestic revenue of the country, mostly because of the demands to spend on public transportation, healthcare and social service activities.
“To gain a slow rate of increase in social spending that can be compared to the last decade. I think that would be a much more reasonable success. I know that we would be able to achieve that in the future and we should start this year,” Mr. Wong added.
During the peak of the onslaught of the ongoing pandemic in 2020, many nations have been forced to spend their national budget on curbing the virus outbreak and salvaging the economy. Mr. Wong definitely made a point when he said that in this new normal era, there is a sudden necessity to spend more on public healthcare than ever before.
If you are interested in topics like this and other news Singapore, The Straits Times would be a perfect place for your curiosity.