Did Hri Kumar avoid answering the point by Kenneth Jeyaretnam?
Did Mr Hri Kumar Nair, PAP Member of Parliament for Bishan Toa Payoh GRC avoid the point raised by Mr Kenneth Jeyarathnam, Secretary-General of Reform Party on the budget of Singapore?
The two had a brief exchange during a CPF forum organized at Thomson Community centre on Saturday with residents of Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC as well as members of public who were interested in taking part in the discussions.
A video taken by Wake Up, Singapore shows Mr Kenneth making his comment as Mr Hri Kumar was presenting a slide of the budget balance for 2012 and 2013.
Before the video started recording, Mr Kenneth stood up t0 question whether the Budget figures presented by Mr Hri Kumar really represented the government’s true fiscal position. He said that the Net Investment Returns Contribution, which is supposed to be up to 50% of the returns on the reserves, was almost entirely matched by the Special Transfers in the Budget.
He then pointed out that in the 2014 Budget an $8 billion Pioneer Generation Package had been announced and the Net Investment Returns Contribution had been entirely used to fund that. However of that $8 billion only some $240 million was budgeted to be spent in 2014.
KJ: And so, I notice every year the Finance Minister transfers the Net Investment Returns Contribution into new long-term funds. It’s not actual spending on the people, it’s actually just putting it back into the reserves. So its… I’ve called it Smoke and Mirrors. (See more here for what Mr Kenneth has written)
Hri Kumar: Ha, Okay.
KJ: And then the Net Investment Returns Contribution, where you say you’re sending 50% of the returns on the reserves, the actual figure for the surplus, I think, in 2012 is about $30 billion so the government is making much, much more…
Hri Kumar: Sure.
KJ: Than the 50%.
Hri Kumar: You can publish your own figures and put them on your own website.
KJ: But the problem is we can’t get the figures from the government.
Hri Kumar: Well, you have the figures here.
KJ: I know. But you won’t give us the figures.
Hri Kumar: You can ask your friends to ask questions. Any question you have please write in.
KJ: Alright OK. (Sits down)
Hri Kumar: I want to deal with reality here.