LOH CHEE KONG
THOUGH Singapore’s economy is export-driven, several Members of Parliament (MPs) have urged the Government to get Singaporeans to spend more, as one response to the current economic malaise.
Their suggestions include suspending or cutting the Goods and Services Tax, a nationwide sale and slashing Electronic Road Pricing rates to lure Singaporeans to the shopping malls.
Tanjong Pagar MP Bay Yam Keng suggested a “Great Singapore Resilience Sale” where leisure attractions across the island would simultaneously reduce admission prices. “Retailers should run sales to push their inventory. Even our hawkers should cut their prices. Perhaps we can even slash ERP rates and TV licence fees just for one year,” he said.
Singling out the media for perpetuating the “gloom and doom” that has got locals spending less, Pasir Ris-Punggol MP Michael Palmer said: “Every time one turns on the radio or television and listens to the news, or reads the newspapers, the message comes across clearly.” While he “fully” agrees Singaporeans “must be kept informed about the true state of affairs”, he said the “psychological effect” would be to dampen spending. He cited the example of a grassroots leader who had cut back on spending even though his business was “still flourishing”.
Calling on the Government to rethink its aversion to a temporary suspension or reduction of GST on essential items, Mr Palmer said such measures would ease the burden on low-income households and spur consumption.
Non-Constituency MP Sylvia Lim noted that many small and medium enterprises here depend on domestic consumption. Also, compared to targeted handouts to offset the GST, an across-the-board cut in GST – which the Government has ruled out – would provide a “more broad-based stimulus” to consumption, she argued.
But Tanjong Pagar MP Indranee Rajah pointed out the Government was already taking steps to stimulate demand, such as bringing forward construction projects and ramping up public-sector hires.