I echo the call by WP to exempt basic essentials from GST. To prevent the rich from also benefitting from such exemptions, we can set a price threshold. NTUC Fairprice housebrand rice sells for $1.40 per kg. We can therefore exempt rice that sells for under $2 per kg from GST. This way we prevent luxury goods from being included in the exemption.
FM said that additional cost would be incurred for having multi-tiered GST. Can the FM let us know how much cost is involved here? If we believe that in principle, basic necessities should be exempt to help the lower income households, then as Minister VB said 2 days ago when talking about the Ukraine war, we must be prepared to pay the cost for what we believe in.
Also, what does the FM expect the GST rate to be in 2030?
Can the FM also share with us how much the effective corp tax rate would have to be raised by to generate the same revenue as a 2% hike in GST?
The Finance Minister said earlier in his round-up speech that my example on land sales is simplistic because land sale will not stay stagnate every year.
I wish to clarify that is only an assumption made for the purpose of simplifying the illustration of the revenue stream. Varying land sales each year would result in a varying revenue stream but in no way invalidate the model. I am sure the FM is able to extrapolate from that illustration what are the variations that would result from a varying land sale.
Singapore will be not pressured to sell more land in order to generate more revenue in bad times.
This is because the revenue for each year is the cumulation of land sales over many years in the past, and the latest year’s land sale would have a small impact on the revenue.
For example, suppose year 10 is a recessionary year and land sales is only $50 instead of $100, then revenue generated from the land sale in year 10 is $2.50 instead of $5. However the revenue from previous years’ land sales remain unchanged, so the total revenue for the year is $47.5 instead of $50. A A 50% drop in land sale proceeds result in only a 5% drop in revenue because it is cushioned by the land sales in earlier years.
Conversely, any attempt to sell more land in any particular year would also have limited impact on the revenue for the year since it is spread out over many years. It is therefore a rather stable revenue stream.
Can I seek confirmation from the Finance Minister that, under current arrangement of HDB buying land from SLA, that the same piece of land acquired at low cost by the government in the past, will be sold repeatedly to HDB at prevailing land price? Does the same apply to JTC with respect to industrial land?
MOM COS Speech
CPF is our main social safety net. It can be used for housing, healthcare, education and retirement income. Self-employed persons do not have the benefit of employer CPF contributions. Their housing and retirement adequacy are areas of concern.
About one third of the 228,000 SEPs work for platform companies that assign delivery or transportation work to them. The UK Supreme Court decided to classify them as workers, a category between employees and self-employed, with some benefits like paid leave and pensions.
These gig or platform workers often engage in physically strenuous work with low entry barrier. And they also tend to earn less. The median monthly income of resident employees in 2018 was $4,000 for permanent employees but only $1322 for gig workers. Furthermore, delivery or transportation jobs have a high chance of being replaced by machines with advancements in technology in the not too distant future. Researchers in IPS warned of platform workers being caught in a poverty trap.
The Advisory Committee on Platform Workers was set up 6 months ago to look into better protection for platform workers. Can MOM provide an update on the progress of the committee and when can we expect the committee to make public their recommendations?
In addition, I would like to seek further information from MOM:
- What is the latest number of platform workers?
- What is their median age?
- How many are unable to meet the basic retirement sum now?
- For those who are unable to meet the BRS, what is their average CPF savings?
- How many are making CPF contributions voluntarily?
- How many have recently completed or are currently attending Skillsfuture courses to upgrade their skills?
I would also like to provide 2 suggestions.
The lack of CPF savings is a major concern. To encourage platform workers to make voluntary CPF contributions, can MOM consider a special scheme to allow them to voluntarily contribute CPF and withdraw their voluntary contributions on demand.
The income of gig workers is not stable. Due to this volatility, it is important to keep cash on hand. Gig workers are understandably hesitant about making voluntary CPF contributions over fears that when they need that money they cannot access it.
If, however, they have the flexibility of withdrawing those contributions when needed, they would be incentivised to contribute CPF to benefit from the higher interest rates offered by CPFB, as salaried employees do.
My second suggest is on training.
According to Grab, “Around 70 percent of our partners have expressed interest in attending training and skills development programs to improve in their current role, while two-thirds of our partners hope to leverage skills gained to transit into other career fields.”
Do platform companies have to pay SDF for their platform workers? If not, can MOM consider making platform companies contribute SDF and use these funds to give extra training support to platform workers?
First of all, I declare that I run an education company operating education centres and a private school.
Today I wish to again urge MOE to consider implementing a pilot project of a 10-year through-train programme for primary and secondary school students, bypassing the PSLE.
MPs across time and political parties – Ms Paulin Straughan, Mr Hri Kumar, Mr Yee Jenn Jong, Ms Kuik Shiao-Yin, Mr Kok Heng Leun, Ms Denise Phua, and myself – have spoken up either for the scrapping of PSLE, or a through-train pilot programme giving parents and students the option of bypassing PSLE.
The PSLE remains the most stressful exam for local parents and children. Despite changes to the assessment, the PSLE stakes are high for parents, educators and students. Chronic stress from high stakes exams on young children is undesirable. Neuroscience tells us that long term negative stress impedes the brain development of children. These are bad outcomes for their esteem and mental health. Lately, tragic incidents have given us a rude wake up call to pay more attention to the mental well-being of our students.
Over the years, efforts have been made to reduce stress on students by removing examinations at certain levels, however, the PSLE is the elephant in the room.
Previous Education Ministers have said that “removing the PSLE and having a through train will only transfer the stress on parents and students elsewhere, such as at the P1 registration”.
But if the through-train programme is implemented in a limited number of schools while the mainstream is still on the PSLE system, this would not happen. This would at least give parents and students a choice. As we learn from the experience, we can decide later whether the through-train programme should be extended to more schools.
In Mandarin please.
Student Initiated Learning
In 2020, MOE announced the introduction of student-initiated learning (SIL) in secondary schools, JCs and MI.
I would like to seek more information from MOE on this initiative.
- How many schools have implemented SIL?
- If there are schools that have implemented SIL last year, how was it implemented and what was the outcome?
PLD was rolled out last year. Can MOE confirm that no students are without access to PLD due to financial reasons? After 1 year of implementation, how has PLD affected the students’ learning?