Singapore

Govt to keep ability to amend Constitution without vote: Shanmugam

Govt to keep ability to amend Constitution without vote: Shanmugam
Law and Foreign Affairs Minister K Shanmugam. Photo: Reuters
Published: 4:04 AM, July 10, 2014
Updated: 6:33 AM, July 10, 2014

SINGAPORE — With social spending set to increase to support a rapidly ageing population, the Government needs to preserve its ability to make the “necessary adjustments” to the Constitution to strengthen the revenue base and pay for the extra spending, said Law and Foreign Affairs Minister K Shanmugam.

This is why the Government does not intend to bring into force Article 5(2A) of the Constitution, he said in response to a question raised by Nominated Member of Parliament Eugene Tan yesterday.

The Article states that if Parliament wants to amend certain elements of the Constitution, including any provisions relating to the President’s powers, it must seek a national referendum and get the support of at least two-thirds of voters.

With healthcare spending alone likely to triple from S$4 billion in 2011 to about S$12 billion by 2020, Mr Shanmugan told Parliament that further refinements to both the tax system, as well as the basis on which the Government can draw on net investment returns for current spending, cannot be ruled out over the next five to 10 years.

“To bring Article 5(2A) into force before that would otherwise potentially trigger a national referendum each time we needed to make a further refinement or adjustment,” he said. “Our view is that we should give ourselves more time before entrenching the provisions.” Laura Philomin