On Wednesday, Mr Wong said many governments in advanced economies do not have enough money to fund their policies and have to raise taxes. “Their fiscal systems are at risk of breaking,” he said.

Having a version of an independent Budget office – which the Workers’ Party (WP) has proposed – did not help, said Mr Wong.

“No political party in these countries is prepared to dish out the hard truths, so their policy debates are dominated by what some commentators call fiscal fantasies,” he said.

Examples include overly optimistic forecasting assumptions and the idea that all the funds can be raised from the rich with close to zero consequences for the rest of the population. They may also kick the fiscal can down the road indefinitely, he added. 

“Let’s not indulge in fantasy thinking. Not in this House, not in Singapore,” he said, adding that Singapore is in a unique and privileged position of being able to use savings from the past, rather than having to pay for debts accumulated by previous governments.

“We must maintain our commitment to set aside enough not just for ourselves, but also for the future. So 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 said.

He repeated Mr Lee’s challenge to make drawing more from Singapore’s reserves an election issue. 

“The PAP will join issue with you, we will present our case to Singaporeans, and ultimately, Singaporeans can decide what is the best fiscal approach to take Singapore forward.”

Workers’ Party MPs and Progress Singapore Party NCMPs did not respond directly to the challenge.

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