Sunday, December 03, 2006

Singaporeans 'always come first' - And That Is Always How It Should Have Been And Should Be!

Quote from ST, 4th December 2006:

THE first responsibility of the Government is to Singaporeans, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said yesterday, when he announced plans to charge non-citizens more for education and health care.

He told some 1,000 People's Action Party cadres at the party's conference that 'while we have non-Singaporeans here, citizens always come first.'

Education and health are two areas in which the Government has not made a clear distinction between citizens, permanent residents and foreigners, Mr Lee added.

This will change, he declared.

In education, non-citizens will be charged higher fees, but the charges would not be set so high as to drive away foreign students.

Tuition fees for foreigners at universities and polytechnics here, for instance, are now 10 per cent above what Singaporeans and PRs pay.

As for health care, PRs will be charged more, while foreign workers are going to pay the full amount and their employers will need to buy medical insurance to protect them.

The Education and Health ministries will make these adjustments in the next few months, Mr Lee said.

'We have to treat visitors well, too, but citizens have to be treated better,' he added.
'Citizens come first in our priorities, in our thinking.'

He cited the need for immigration, foreign talent and foreign workers here - areas which have caused some disquiet on the ground.

But he said these policies are needed 'because we want Singaporeans to do well and we want to do the best for Singapore and for our children'.

Citizens coming first, Mr Lee explained, was why state schemes like last year's Progress Package or the upcoming GST offset package would be 'for citizens only, not for PRs, not for non-citizens'.

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Sounds really really good! Thanks for taking up some suggestions from this blog Mr. Government!

Now, as a cynical citizen, what do I stand to gain from the additional revenue? A freeze in GST permanently in Education and Healthcare or perhaps a complete rollback on GST for these two areas now that revenues should be going up?

Also does it mean that the citizens were being had all this time till some Singaporeans got really vocal and came up with ideas on easing government revenue constraints? What of the creme de la creme that supposedly exists in government? The best of the best of the best??? Kooning? Like in Parliament?

Only time will tell. At the end of the day the email that is going around about how GST works out for the upper (smallest group that is really getting lower taxes overall), middle (largest group getting suckered some more) and lower (apparently steadily growing group really getting it in the nuts!) classes is really telling.