Sitting as Chairman of GIC a position last held by his deceased father, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong gambled a total of US$28.4 billion of CPF funds in properties around the world in 2017. According to Bloomberg, the figure is a 40% increase and also the highest amount ever.
The biggest bet Lee Hsien Loong placed is on Donald Trump’s United States. Data from property and investment firms Real Capital Analytics and Cushman & Wakefield Inc. revealed that GIC has increased investments in US properties to US$7.1 billion in 2017, buying over student accommodations and luxurious financial buildings like the iconic 60 Wall Street in Manhattan. The investments also made Singapore the largest Asian investor in US commercial properties, surpassing China’s US$5.9 billion.
As there is no transparency over it’s balance sheet, it is unknown whether Lee Hsien Loong is reaping profits or making substantial losses in these foreign properties.
In the most recent financial year, GIC admitted to losing at least S$43 billion. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was dodgy in his response except to say that the 20-year annualised average has fallen 0.3% from 4% to 3.7%.
Singapore’s two sovereign wealth fund companies, GIC and Temasek Holdings, are headed by Lee Hsien Loong and his wife Ho Ching. The country’s CPF retirement funds and national reserves are managed by the two companies, and when they are unprofitable, Singaporeans will have to pay more taxes and CPF.
In 2017, there has been significant tax increases in water prices. Next month, in Budget 2018, the PAP government will likely introduce a GST tax increase, Carbon tax and a sugar tax. CPF Minimum Sum has also risen to S$181,000 sneakily at the start of the year, with no public announcement. The current CPF Withdrawal Age is 65 years old, however, as the Re-employment Age has been increased to 67 years old last year, it is likely the Withdrawal Age will also increase.