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WP Pritam Singh refutes DPM Wong’s “raiding reserves” accusation

Pritam Singh challenges DPM Wong’s claim of opposition’s intent to deplete reserves, stressing their careful financial prudence. He emphasizes sustainable growth for Singapore’s future.



Leader of the Opposition, Pritam Singh, contested Deputy Prime Minister Wong’s assertion that the opposition merely aims to deplete reserves, underscoring their meticulous consideration of financial prudence.

Following Mr Wong’s budget 2024 closing speech on Wednesday (28 February), Mr Singh sought clarifications and contended that the opposition’s call for more information is integral to their efforts to comprehend fiscal prudence in Singapore.

Additionally, he underscored that sustainable growth is the paramount factor for Singapore’s progress in this decade.

DPM Wong accuses the opposition of advocating increased use of reserves for current spending

In his concluding speech for the 2024 Budget debate, DPM Wong stressed the crucial need for Singapore to proactively plan its fiscal policies, ensuring the nation can fulfil collective aspirations and capitalize on every opportunity.

However, he redirected the discussion by scrutinizing the opposition, accusing them of advocating for increased utilization of reserves for current expenditure.

He reiterated the government’s stance on reserves, stating that it would result in having less for the current generation and leaving less behind for future generations.

He emphasized the importance of prudence, fairness, and sustainability in fiscal policy.

Additionally, he mentions that some governments in advanced economies face rising debts and fiscal challenges due to what he refers to as “fiscal fantasies” – unrealistic assumptions, overreliance on taxing the rich or postponing fiscal problems for the future.

“Let’s not indulge in fantasy thinking, not in this house, not in Singapore, ” he said.

“I call on everyone in this House, let’s commit to upholding these values: fiscal responsibility, discipline, ensure that our fiscal system meets the needs and aspirations of both current and future generations of Singaporeans.”

Mr Wong then challenged the opposition to make the issue of drawing more from the reserves an election matter.

He suggests that they can seek a mandate from the people to change the constitution and allow for greater use of the reserves.

Mr Singh rebuts DPM Wong’s allegation

In response, Mr Singh, Workers’ Party Chief and Member of Parliament for Aljunied GRC, acknowledged and thanked DPM Wong for stating that the government would provide more information on government policies.

He considered this important, especially in the context of discussions about the usage of reserves and addressing funding gaps.

Mr Singh countered the suggestion that the opposition merely wants to dig into the reserves, emphasizing that they carefully consider financial prudence.

“I would be cautious to suggest that the opposition essentially just wants to dig into the reserves because we do think about the financial prudence question quite carefully.”

He mentioned a specific proposal by the WP for an employee and employer-financed scheme, challenging the notion that the opposition solely advocates for tapping into reserves.

He further emphasized the importance of sustainable growth rather than just growth.

He highlighted that the key question for the future is not just about achieving growth but ensuring it is sustainable.

In response, Mr Wong noted that WP previously objected to the GST increase, calling for Singapore to dig into its reserves to meet its needs.

DPM Wong questions WP’s position on GST and reserve usage

DPM Wong acknowledged Mr Singh’s clarification but raised a specific point about the Workers’ Party’s position on the Goods and Services Tax (GST).

He accused that WP had initially objected to the GST but eventually accepted it at rise.

DPM Wong questioned whether now that the GST has been implemented at seven percent, the WP would accept a nine percent GST as a reality.

DPM Wong also asked if this would mean that WP’s proposals to use more of Singapore’s reserves “are therefore no longer relevant”, and that the party is “fully consistent” with the People’s Action Party (PAP) in terms of the use of the reserves.

Mr Singh said the opposition makes proposals based on the information available to them at the time.

It has no insight into how the government spends money to fund policy objectives, so it cannot make any promises on committing to raising revenues.

Mr Singh referred to an earlier exchange in the debate between Member Mr Murali Pillai and his colleague Associate Professor Jamus Lim.

He highlighted that there is a lack of insight into matters such as the allocation of the S$40 billion for Forward Singapore initiatives committed by the Minister of Finance.

Due to this lack of information, he stated that he cannot make any promises or commitments regarding the opposition’s stance on funding policy objectives.

“I think the vision or whatever is before the Workers’ Party … (is) we’ll have to work with the information that we have. We are not in government. And if it means that we have to look at all options, we will look at all options.”

Mr Singh acknowledges shifts in PAP’s approach to reserve usage

DPM Wong then probed whether there was a difference in fundamental fiscal philosophy between the PAP and the WP.

He pointed out that there was a time when there was alignment in the House, specifically mentioning Mr Low Thia Khiang, former WP Chief.

“It seemed to me that this had changed under Mr Pritam Singh,” he said.

DPM Wong asserted that the PAP would unwaveringly adhere to fundamental principles, irrespective of policy adjustments.

“This must never be compromised. This must never change. These principles were put in place by our founding leaders. They have continued under successive leaders of the PAP and they will certainly continue under my watch,” said Mr Wong.

In response, Mr Singh acknowledged familiarity with such statements in the House.

“I do agree with the Finance Minister. Policies change. A PAP government yesterday would return the money that it has used from the reserves as a matter of principle. ”

“But today a PAP government may not return the money it uses from the reserves. That’s my response.”

PAP MP Mr Sitoh and Mr Singh’s exchange

Sitoh Yih Pin, PAP MP for Potong Pasir SMC later weighed in on the debate, sought clarification from Mr Singh’s remark claiming the current PAP government does not return reserves to the people, while the past government did.

Mr Sitoh then asked if Mr Singh was suggesting that the government has to top up the reserves it drew during COVID, considering the potential massive amount and the funding challenge.

In response, Mr Singh said Mr Sitoh “had just made the case he was emphasizing.”

“In one situation, you can; in another situation, you can’t. You have to look at the statements made when the money was returned, and then you see in a different situation, a different context, there’s a different explanation. ”

Mr Sitoh then conpared the last time reserves were topped up after a drawdown was in 2009, with $4 billion being added after the global financial crisis.

He highlighted the substantial drawdown of more than $40 billion during COVID-19, expressing the need for understanding how to top up such a significant amount.

He sought insights into how WP would top up $40 billion if in government.

Mr Singh referred to the recently announced extended instalment plan of up to 24 months for property tax payments, part of Budget 2024, implying a similar approach could be an idea.

Despite Mr Sitoh’s insistence on the WP Chief elaborating on measures, he failed to address Mr Singh’s point regarding the instalment plan.

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They are raiding the reserve for themselves the elites. I say come election. Spoil all votes and terminate their fake election system. Anyway if I am the ppl entities Not wanted by any empire. You all Singaporean will not be held accountable. I will be held accountable for it. These fuck arse top Elites will purge me first. No?!?

That is if you Singaporean want a future for your offspring or you want to be a slave in this shit system!!!!

The opposition makes a statement as they do, and thereafter, … will have to repeat that very statement, re~clarify it with pictures and signs, whilst referring the ruling regime to the Hansard, as this overpaid, over~privileged and overrated lot have this “lights are on but nobody’s home” sickness, … of regularly “misinterpreting” key points and statements from the opposition !!!

There ought to be a SkillsFuture course specifically designed for all members from the lightning party or, … precious parliamentary time is wasted and once again, … grateful and thankful that such shit shows aren’t broadcasted live !!!

Why do you think the CPF SA (Special Acct) is being done away with? They are finding it hard to scrape the funds to pay the interest … because TH’s performance is so so so … stellar?

Hey guys stop talking cock. How to raid the reserves when you got not one but two Pukeys?

And if you don’t want to pay higher interest in the sa just say so! There is no need to beat around the bush.

You should get a POFMA instead for lying!

To be able to raid the reserves, we must know what is in the reserves. No one outside the PAP circle knows, so why claim that the Opposition wants to raid the reserves? To hide the reserves from us, Tharman is there as a security guard for the PAP. Due to the the population increase policy, billions are being spent on road works and MRTS. Singaporeans should ask themselves do we need to be building so much on an island that is sinking? It is the present population that is being robbed of enjoying their lives as in a First… Read more »

When the opposition proposes using the reserves, it is considered “RAIDING” the reserves. When the PAP actually uses the reserves, it is not raiding. I see ….

Theres a famous saying…”Take care of the Present and the Future will take care of itself”..

So the Tell Tale sign PAP already signal when they CONCEIVE the tale to SG to prepare for, esp when THEY plan to keep Reserves for Future Generations MEANS MORE FOREIGN TRASH ARE COMING by the 100s of 1000s because it seems PAP idea of keeping Reserves means to cater for 1,000,000 millions of foreigners.

Die la SG. Our children future IS NOT the future generation PAP IS TALKING about. Future generation to the PAP is Millions of Foreigners.

The Future Generation PAP constantly, regularly talk about – BUT with no projections to prove. What sort of future generation numbers they are lying about?

Don’t tell lies lies lies about a NON EXISTENT future generation cohort when there AREN’T Any Effective policies enacted, carried out TILL NOW. ANYONE seems to KNOW HOW IS THE FUTURE Generation coming along? HOW? From where?

Only when there are effective population increase tactics, NOW, in the PRESENT, like birth rates – then these will translate into a PROPER ‘Future Generation’ in 10s of years from NOW.

When the incumbent spent lavishly like the recent Budget 2024, they call it help the people. But hey, giving profitable companies a $40k tax rebate is a lot especially for owners who set up multiple companies. And throwing so much money to some students like $15k and other incentives to students who move on from ITE to next graduate level. And how much of the Budget is poured into healthcare so that foreigners cannot refuse to leave, up to $100k and higher and higher salaries? BUT IF it’s Opposition asking for spending on some sectors that’s needing help, it’s called… Read more »

That why you can never ask WHY or demand an explanation. No?!?

Their system is an Overlords system so that they are permanent fixtures in the whole grand scheme of work. It is Not meritocracy nor renewal as ppl NOT chosen by them or reject their systems are ostracized and use as scapegoats. No?!?

No need to declare then can keep dipping in to save their own ppl and be an overlord. Where got invest in State 2 mostly not their ppl except specific overlords to go around raiding ppl assets … No?!? Their state 2 system is to be enslaved too so can do the same give to take back … Full of crappy shit!!!!