Dissatisfied with criticisms over the government’s arbitrary “50%-rule” on the use of investment returns, former army general Minister Chan Chun Sing threatened Singaporeans that there are “severe implications” and that this “should not be taken lightly”.
Speaking figuratively without providing any statistics, Minister Chan Chun Sing said:
“How much we spend and how much we save will also signal to the currency markets what they can expect the strength of the Sing dollar to be. If the world thinks we are running an irresponsible or unsustainable fiscal policy, you can well imagine what they will do to the Sing dollar. There are severe implications on what it means to not have a strong Sing dollar or not have sufficient reserves as our buffer.”
The PAP Minister who has zero financial training also commented that the S$9.6 billion surplus in Budget 2018 was due to currency fluctuation, but did not go into the details:
“The budget surplus was not a structural surplus but largely attributed to currency fluctuation … hence, very much like our approach to restructure the economy for long-term growth, we too can’t afford to be short-sighted in the way we manage our finances. We have to be prepared for the long term.”
Minister Chan Chun Sing then dabbled on rhetoric and said Singaporeans should understand the “complex issues” why they should pay more in the future:
“One of the most challenging issues for Singapore’s budget in the coming years is how to keep the healthcare system affordable, sustainable and fair. Schemes that promise us no co-payment may end up causing us a situation whereby today’s claims become tomorrow’s premiums and the price escalation goes up very quickly. On the other hand, schemes that promise higher and longer payouts must realistically be funded through longer upfront pre-funding, and schemes with more affordable premiums will involve wider risk-pooling… We will discuss these complex issues more in the coming year to help Singaporeans understand the challenges and options that we have.”
Minister Chan Chun Sing is a Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office with no portfolio, due to his lack of experience in finance, education, social and every government ministry. However, due to his loyalty from his military background, the former army general is poised to be the next Prime Minister.