'Help poor, but beware of debt'

'Help poor, but beware of debt'

Even as the Government ramps up social assistance, state spending has to be kept at a sustainable level.

Acting Culture, Community and Youth Minister Lawrence Wong (right) cautioned against getting Singapore into debt and passing the burden to future generations.

Mr Wong was speaking to Joo Chiat residents at a community dialogue on Sunday, responding to calls for even more subsidies in various areas.

He said that while more should be spent to help the needy, the challenge was to maintain a progressive tax system and avoid getting into debt.

"I think 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," he said.

While the Government will do its part to chip in on social assistance, Singaporeans must play their role to care for each other in the community, he said.

At a separate event on Sunday, Law and Foreign Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam said different layers of assistance were available for those with different needs and there was no need for a poverty line.

"We are helping people on the ground and it is not defined by a single line."

Both ministers' comments on Sunday followed Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's comments to reporters on Saturday at the Commonwealth summit in Sri Lanka, where he said that a poverty line was not necessary to help the poor in Singapore.

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