Singapore Ranks Among Bottom 10 In The World On Fighting Inequality
Singapore has been ranked among the bottom 10 countries in the world when it comes to tackling inequality, according to a global index released on Tuesday (October 9).
The Commitment to Reducing Inequality Index 2018 report, released by United Kingdom-based organisation Oxfam, ranked Singapore at 149 out of 157 countries.
According to the report, Singapore’s low position was due to a number of harmful tax practices, which includes low personal income tax rates for the rich. Currently, the maximum income tax rate for the highest-earners in Singapore stands at 22 per cent.
Oxfam also noted that Singapore has a relatively low level of public social spending. At 39 per cent of its budget going towards education, health and social protection, Singapore lags behind countries like South Korea and Thailand, who direct half their budgets towards those areas.
In a rebuttal, Social and Family Development Minister Desmond Lee said on Tuesday (October 9) said that the report assumes that high taxation and high public expenditure showed commitment to combat inequality. Instead, Mr Lee said that “it is more important to look at the outcomes achieved”.
He added that Singaporeans “benefit more than proportionately from the high quality of infrastructure and social support that the state provides”.
Oxfam rejected Mr Lee’s defense on Wednesday (October 10). its head of inequality policy, Max Lawson, said that Singapore’s tax policy has implications that reach beyond its borders, by serving as a tax haven for the rich and big corporations.
“Singapore’s harmful tax practices mean that they are eroding the revenue of other countries in the region and globally, revenues that those countries could be investing in schools and hospitals,” he said.