Leong Sze Hian / Columnist
I refer to the Department of Statistics’ reply “Number of S’pore citizens growing” (ST, Sep 20) to Michael Eng’s letter “Is the population of Singapore citizens shrinking” (ST, Sep 18).
It states that:
The number of Singapore citizens has been growing. Last year, the number of Singapore citizens stood at 3.13 million, about 0.8 per cent higher than the 3.11 million recorded in 2006. The number of permanent residents (PRs) was 0.45 million last year, an increase from 0.42 million in 2006.
With 39,490 new babies in 2007, about 15,000 new citizenships granted last year and only 1,000 Singaporeans giving up their citizenship in a year, why is the increase in the number of Singapore citizens only about 20,000?
Even if we take away the 17,140 who died in 2007, shouldn’t the increase in citizens be about 36.350, instead of 20,000?
[39,490 new babies + 15,000 new citizens - 1,000 “give up citizenship” - 17,140 deaths = Total: 36,350]
So, is the number of citizens growing or shrinking?
According to the DOS’s latest Population Trends 2008 report, the number of non-residents grew by 19 per cent while the resident population went up by a mere one per cent, and PRs by 6.5 per cent, compared to 2007, as of June 2008.
Since the number of citizens grew to 3.16 million from last year’s 3.13 million due to the higher number of citizen babies and more PRs taking up citizenship, and the number of PRs who became citizens for the first half of this year, was 9,600, it appears that about 12,038 citizens are unaccounted for
(30,600 citizens increase –[(18,032 resident births + 9,600 new citizens - 500 "give up citizenship"] – 8,570 deaths (assuming half of 2007’s number).
So, does this mean that the number becoming citizens increased by about 32 per cent from about 7,300 for the first half of 2007 to about 9,600 for the first half of 2008?
What was the number for the whole of 2007?
Since 34,800 were granted PRs in the first six months of 2008, compared to 28,500 in the same period in 2007, does it mean that PRs are increasing at about 22 per cent?
Could the missing 12,038 have anything to do with the “give up citizenship” statistic?
With the current trend of foreigners and PRs growing much faster than citizens, when will citizens be projected to be less than non-citizens in the population ?
Revealing the reserves
I refer to the articles “GIC sees good Citi, UBS returns in long run” (ST, Sep 24) and “Tougher investment environment ahead, says GIC in first performance report” (My Paper, Sep 24).
In 2006, it was disclosed that the Government Investment Corporation’s (GIC) annual rate of return for the past 25 years was 8.2 per cent in Singapore dollar terms.
Now, in GIC’s first ever performance report, the annual rate of return for the past 20 years was 5.8 per cent.
So, its 8.2 per cent for 25 years, but 5.8 per cent for 20 years.
[The fund does not make available financial statements but the elder Lee said in 2006 that the fund had earned an average return of 9.5 percent annually over the last 25 years in U.S. dollar terms. Lee Hsien Loong told Reuters in May GIC will not be as open as sister fund Temasek. – Reuters]
The question that may be on everyone’s mind may be - what was the return for the last 25, 26 and 27 years ?
Reporting different time periods may make any meaningful comparison or analysis more difficult.
In the defamation trial against Dr Chee Soon Juan in, it was reportedly said that our reserves was US$ 300 billion.
Since GIC, on September 23, said that its portfolio is well over US$ 100 billion, does it mean that the portfolio shrunk by about US$ 100 billion or more in a matter of months?
I estimate that Temasek’s investments in financial institutions since last year, may have shrunk in value by more than $ 10 billion.
In the interest of transparency, can Temasek and GIC give Singaporeans more details ?
Impact on national reserves
Whilst everybody has been talking about the impact of the financial turmoil on Singapore’s economy, financial institutions, investors, etc, I would like to ask what is the impact on our national savings and reserves?
The finance minister said: “Asian economies will have to tighten monetary policy to fight inflation but this should be a calibrated approach”, at the Association of Banks’ annual dinner on 27 June, 2008.
According to the Ministry of Finance’s web site, assets in the form of cash, government stocks, other investments (quoted and unquoted), deposits with investment agents and securities held as statutory deposits - trust companies, was $ 522 billion, in its statement of assets and liabilities as at 31 March 2007. This is an increase of about 8 and 11 per cent respectively from 2006’s and 2005’s $ 483 billion and $ 437 billion.
Since the Financial Transfers to various funds like the Edusave, Medical, Lifelong Learning, Community Care Endowment Funds, Development Fund, etc, was about $ 4.9 billion for FY 2007, does it mean that in a sense, the Budget surplus was about $ 9.1 billion ($6.4 billion surplus + $ 4.9 billion financial transfers - $ 2.2 billion special transfers) ?
As I understand it, does it mean that some of these funds may not actually be deemed as expenditure, as they merely top-up these funds of which a small component (interest only ?) is actually spent every year ?
For FY 2008, Financial Transfers are estimated to be about $ 10.7 billion, an increase of about 118 per cent over FY 2007.
In this connection, does it mean that transfers to the Development Fund ($ 5.26 billion) to meet future development outlays, may in a sense, be accounting as an expenditure now for an expenditure anticipated in the future - and thus may lead to an under-reporting of the Budget surplus ?
If we add back the transfer to the Development Fund of $ 5.26 billion, does it mean that the estimated FY 2008 budget deficit of $ 0.8 billion, may become a surplus of $ 6.06 billion ?
Are the above conventions used by other countries in their Budgets ?
I also refer to the article “Govt defers projects worth $ 1.7 b” (ST, Jul 23).
It states that “A total of $ 4.7 billion of public sector projects will now be pushed back to 2010 and beyond”.
As I understand these expenditures have already been accounted for in the Budget, will the deferral result in an under-reporting of the Budget surplus?
Have these Development Funds already been charged to the Budget as Financial Transfers?
I also refer to media reports about Temasek’s annual report, press release, and performance for the last year (My Paper, Aug 27).
Does Temasek’s portfolio, which grew to $ 185 billion, an increase of 13 per cent from $ 164 billion previously, which includes a $ 10 billion injection by the Minister for Finance (incorporated), mean that the increase without the $ 10 billion injection was $ 11 billion ($ 185 - $ 10 - $ 164 billion) ?
So, does it mean that the increase was about 7 per cent ? ($ 175 divided by $ 164 billion).
How much assets have the government injected into Temasek in its 33-year history ?
Have these injections been by way of cash or state assets ?
In respect of the injection of state assets, were they injected at nominal or market value ?