Shrouded in opacity and secrecy, the actual amount in the Singapore’s National Reserves has always been a question and kept away even from its sole key holder, the Singapore President. The Singapore Government has recently announced the issuance of the new Singapore Savings Bond.
Marketed as “risk-free” and having “decent interest returns” by the Government-controlled mainstream media, The Straits Times, the new Singapore Savings Bond however have not faced the real question of its existence:
Why is the Singapore Government raising money from issuing bonds?
The issuance of bond, is a debt to a country where the Government need to honour the debt by paying interests every year. Since 1965, the Singapore Government never once have to resort to issuing bonds, or simply put in, borrow to pay for its policies. It even accumulated a wealth of National Reserves through years of surplus, no thanks to the Singapore Government’s shrewd taxing policies that mainly collected the bulk of indirect taxes on the middle class and low income.
According to the International Monetary Fund data, the Singapore Government owes debt amounting to 111% of GDP – among the top 10 most debt-ridden countries in the world. The debt is mainly owed to the people’s retirement fund, the Central Provident Fund, where the Singapore Government legislated laws to borrow this cheap fund with low interest. The issuance of Singapore Savings Bond will no doubt push the Singapore Government into further debt, and with higher interest obligations than the CPF – or in Straits Times’s lyrical wax: “decent returns”.
In the recent years, there have been speculations about the bankruptcy of Singapore’s two sovereign wealth fund, Temasek Holdings (TH) and the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (GIC), due to high profile losses from investments like this, this, this, this, this, this and etc. As the Singapore Government has no jurisdiction over foreign press, more of its investment losses were reported and widely shared among Singaporeans in the internet age.
Another sign of worry about the Singapore Reserves, is the continual raising of the CPF Withdrawal Age, CPF Minimum Sum and the introduction of mandatory annuity, CPF Life, and insurance, CPF Life Medishield. It is getting even harder to have confidence about Singapore’s financial health when the Singapore Government insisted that transparency is not important, according to the Singapore Government website that “factually dispels doubts”:
“It is not in our national interest to publish the full size of our reserves.”
The Singapore Government however has not explained its intention of issuing the new Singapore Saving Bonds, despite the fact that such bonds is going to incur greater debt obligations.
What do you think is the real reason the Singapore Government need to borrow?