Govt 'will look out for asset-rich, cash-poor'

Govt 'will look out for asset-rich, cash-poor'

The Government's move towards a more progressive tax system will help address the concerns of asset-rich, cash-poor older Singaporeans, Acting Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong said on Sunday.

In designing its tax system, the Government is "very mindful of this particular group of sandwiched Singaporeans", he said in response to concerns raised by residents of Joo Chiat in a dialogue.

For instance, it has moved away from using Housing Board flat type as the qualifying criteria for Budget surplus sharing schemes, he said.

These schemes now use the annual value of property, which Mr Wong said is a "fairer system" because owners of lower-end private property can also benefit.

Many of the Joo Chiat residents at yesterday's dialogue, which was held at the end of Mr Wong's visit to the single-member constituency, were retirees living in private property.

Three of them were unhappy that although they had little or no income, they or family members could not qualify for the Community Health Assist Scheme (Chas), which subsidises care at private general practitioner clinics.

Others were worried about large hospital bills.

Opera Estate Neighbourhood Committee chairman Chris Chen, 70, said he had to pay a hefty property tax for his home, which he bought when it cost "less than the cost of buying a car today".

Mr Wong said the Government's challenge is how to design a progressive tax system that is fair and just, even while looking after people like Mr Chen.

"We do need to find ways in which we can continue to generate more resources in a sustainable fashion, in a fair and just way that will allow us to redistribute these resources to those in need."

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