NUS faculty gave their take on various aspects of Budget 2018 this past week. Associate Professor Simon Poh from NUS Business School (NUS Business) discussed the economics behind the timing and likely structure of the goods and services tax (GST) hike in a Channel NewsAsia commentary on 21 February, saying that the decision to raise GST and announce it years ahead shows that fiscal decisions are based on strong economic principles. Associate Dean (Research and Executive Education) Donald Low from the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (LKY School) and Dr Gillian Koh, Deputy Director (Research) of the Institute of Policy Studies at the School, also weighed in on the GST hike, saying in individual commentaries in The Straits Times on 21 February how tax increases need to be justified in terms of a social protection system that is more broad-based, and that the government will need to spend time persuading voters on why a hike is necessary.
Touching on the SG Bonus, a one-off cash payment or “hongbao” that will be given to every adult Singaporean as part of Budget 2018, Assistant Professor Ng Kok Hoe from LKY School said in a commentary in The Straits Times on 22 February that this offers several advantages such as protecting the economically vulnerable and allowing the government to respond nimbly to social and economic conditions without incurring long term commitments. However, he warned of risks of overreliance on such payments, including the high cost involved and the public’s expectations. In another piece on the topic in The Straits Times on 25 February, Visiting Professor Sumit Agarwal and Associate Professor Qian Wenlan from NUS Business assessed the impact of the SG Bonus on local consumption patterns, saying that it will likely be a boost for the economy.
Finally, in a commentary in The Straits Times on 23 February, Professor Wei-Jun Jean Yeung from the Asia Research Institute and Director of the Centre for Family and Population Research at NUS Arts and Social Sciences espoused the need for the government to offer greater support to families sandwiched between caring for their young and old, in addition to the Budget’s focus on eldercare.
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