Have a robust debate on increase in Budget spending

Have a robust debate on increase in Budget spending

This year's Budget has been lauded as one that ensures every Singaporean gets a share of the national pie ("Fair for all, sets path for future" by Mr Ho Kong Loon; last Thursday).

However, I am concerned about how the Government plans to pay for anticipated annual increases in expenditure in the future ("Paying for that surge in Budget spending"; last Thursday).

In order to make provisions for the massive $11 billion rise in expenditure projected for FY2015, the Government has moved away from a conservative, tried-and-tested strategy of computing contributions to revenue (namely, to limit the computation of revenue from Temasek Holdings to dividend income).

Now, it has decided to add realised and unrealised capital gains from Temasek Holdings into the equation.

This seems to imply that current reserves available for future transfer to the pool of past reserves has become less.

This also means that a smaller share of past reserves will be passed on to future generations, or, in the event of a national crisis, there would be a smaller pot of past reserves that can be tapped on.

This increase in expenditure should be questioned and debated thoroughly in Parliament, especially if the increase, compared with the previous year, has been substantial.

Also, is it possible to cut some of the national expenditure, so that the Government can avoid the need to resort to unpopular moves like raising taxes?

Chan Yeow Chuan

This article was first published on Mar 2, 2015.
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