The Government’s decision not to withdraw carbon taxes amid coronavirus pandemic is an “implicit admission” that environmental tradeoffs in any discussion of policy, said Workers’ Party (WP) Member of Parliament (MP) for Sengkang GRC Jamus Lim.
Earlier on Tuesday (6 Oct), Dr Lim in Parliament had suggested imposing a “per-flight environmental tax” in relation to Singapore Airlines’ (SIA) earlier proposal to operate flights to nowhere.
Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung said this has become a moot point as SIA has scrapped the idea of flights to nowhere, adding that he would not contemplate imposing such a tax on the airline because that would worsen its crisis.
Dr Lim asked Mr Ong to clarify on why he would not consider imposing an environment tax, given that it is “entirely possible” that the tax will not have an immediate concern on the economic viability if SIA is able to pass on the cost to consumers.
But the Minister responded that “this is really not the time to talk about an environmental tax on SIA” because the airline is in a dire situation due to the pandemic.
Meanwhile, Dr Lim took to his Facebook on Friday (9 Oct) noting that other MPs have also thought of raising the issue of environmental tax in Parliament.
He shared a screenshot of the notice requesting People’s Action Party (PAP) MP Don Wee to withdraw his question on introducing an environment tax on bottled and liquid products in next parliament sitting.
“Indeed, the fact that the Government has chosen not to withdraw carbon taxes in the midst of COVID-19 is an implicit admission that we should always bear in mind environmental tradeoffs in any discussion of policy.”
Dr Lim said he believes that “good policy is the result of careful deliberation and earnest debate”, hence the reason why he proposed imposing an environmental tax on SIA in the previous parliament.
“I was therefore disappointed that what could have been a thoughtful debate about who bears the tax burden of supporting our national airline became misrepresented as a misguided agenda to roll out additional taxes on an ailing industry.”
He continued, “The truth is, the environment affects all of us, and thinking about how we can be good stewards of it need not come at the expense of jobs or profit, and likewise not just when it suits us, as it is an existential issue that affects all future generations.”
Noting that the objectives of saving jobs and the earth can be complementary, Dr Lim believes that “green businesses are the business of the future”.
“And on my part, I will do my utmost to stay true to the principle of engaging in constructive criticism and debate, because I believe that doing so is for the good of our country, our businesses, and our people,” he asserted.