The next general election in Singapore is expected to be held in 2020. At that time, the citizens have the chance to choose the next government that will address the concerns of the people and offer a better future for us and our children.
In the past, the voters vote for the party that they want to be the government. In 2020, we should look at the goals of the political parties, as stated in their election manifesto.
What should be the goals to look out for?
I suggest the top five goals to be as follows:
a) Reduce cost of living
b) Ensure that jobs are available at adequate wages.
c) Give better value for the HDB flat
d) Improve the CPF system
e) Ensure that the elected leaders work for the people
I like to explain these goals and, more importantly, how they can be achieved.
Reduce cost of living
The cost of living can be reduced by abolishing GST. This will reduce prices by more than 7%, because business has to incur cost to collect GST.
The prices charged by the public sector for rental, transport, health care, utilities and other services should be based on cost, without the profit margin.
If these measures are adopted, the cost of living can be reduced significantly.
We need to adjust the pensions of civil servants who retired many years ago with frozen pensions that are inadequate for today’s cost of living.
We have to reduce the inflow of foreigners that compete with citizens for jobs and depress wages.
We also have to ensure that all jobs in the public sector are reserved for citizens and the practice of outsourcing of work in this sector should be abolished. These jobs are for teachers, police officers, nurses, public transport workers.
We should adjust the wages in these sectors to a level that will be adequate for citizens. Our people are prepared to take these jobs if they pay is adequate.
In the private sector, we have to implement measures that make it attractive for employers to prefer citizens, instead of foreigners. This can be done through wage subsidies and levies.
Value of HDB flat
The citizens pay a high price for their HDB flat. They are concerned that these flats will have no value at the end of the 99 year lease.
We should allow the lease to be extended by paying a nominal premium, provided that the flat is still in satisfactory condition. If they are taken back, the owner should be given a grant towards the purchase of the next flat.
We should allow CPF savings to be used for purchase of old flats, so that the values are not depressed.
For younger people, we should offer them the choice of buying a HDB flat priced at cost and has to be resold back to HDB.
We should pay a higher interest rate on CPF savings, higher than 2.5%. It should reflect the return that can be earned on the long term investment of these savings.
Members should be allowed to take out all of their CPF savings on reaching age 55. They may need the savings to pay off debts and other urgent needs.
The CPF should offer an attractive schemes to encourage members to keep their savings beyond 55, but it should be voluntary. The annuity scheme can be improved.
Work for the people
We want the elected leader to work for the people, and not for themselves.
The GRC system should be abolished, so that the voters can elect their member of parliament directly.
The MP should spend more time to understand the problems of the people and to discuss them more fully in Parliament, so that better solutions can be found. This requires the MP to be a full time job.
We have to reduce the salary of ministers to a more sensible level, say less than $500,000 and attract people who are interested to serve the country.
Can the country afford to implement these measures, especially the abolishing of GST and reduction of government fees?
The government has adequate revenue from land sales that can be used to replace GST.
We can also be more prudent in our spending on infrastructure, military hardware and expensive buildings. We should spend an adequate sum, but avoid the overspending on unnecessary or expensive items.
We can increase the income tax on high income earnings, e.g. those earning income above $500,000, i.e the so called “non-mediocre” people.
We need a capable finance minister, someone like our first finance minister, Dr. Goh Keng Swee. I am sure that a capable person can be found in Singapore, perhaps outside of the current establishment.
I am not suggesting populist measures. I am suggested the right measures that will be popular with the people, because they will address their needs and are financially sound.
At the next general election, we have to vote for the goals that we want for our future and for our children, and for the new government that is able to achieve them.
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