A new balance

A new balance

SINGAPORE - This year's National Day Rally was unusual in being less about saving and investing for the future than about spending for the present.

Unusual, in being a lot less focused on economic growth than on social equity.

And unusual too, in shifting the emphasis from the hard talk of self-reliance to the gentle assurances conveyed through phrases such as "don't worry" and "we're all in this together".

That was how Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong chose to outline to the nation a new way forward that he said would see both the Government and community doing more to support individuals.

The shift is significant in three ways:

It acknowledges that not only the low-income but the middle-income groups too need more state support to own their homes.

It recognises that in health care, both individual savings and increased risk pooling to achieve universal insurance coverage are necessary.

It commits the Government to higher spending on an enlarged pool of those considered in need and deserving of help, and following from that, the prospect of higher tax burdens on those with income to spare.

What are the implications of this shift? And is this new course that Singapore has embarked on sustainable?

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