By Leong Sze Hian
I refer to the report “Singapore’s GDP expands by 10.3% on-year, contracts by 19.8% on-quarter in Q3” (Channel NewsAsia, Oct 14).
It state that “On a quarter-on-quarter basis the economy contracted by 19.8 percent, a reversal from the growth of 27.3 percent in the previous quarter”.
What this means is that GDP only grew by about 3 per cent, for the last six months.
Furthermore, the expected spectacular growth for this year of 13 to 15 per cent, may have to be seen in the context of the tremendous decline of 19.4 per cent last year.
On the same day, according to another media report (“Sharp drop in SME productivity: Poll”, ST, Oct 14), from 2007 to 2009, productivity had declined sharply among small and medium-sized entreprises (SMEs), with all sectors registering lower levels of output, with Profit Per Employee ranging from – 25 to – 70.6 per cent.
Labour productivity over the past three years has also fallen (look under ‘productivity‘ here).
It is also somewhat puzzling that whilst GDP growth is expected to be the highest in the world, the seasonally adjusted retail sales index has shown a month-on-month contraction from February to June. Although the figure rose by 3.2 per cent in July, retail sales in July decreased 1.2 per cent compared to July 2009, which was then in the midst of Singapore’s worst recession.
Another set of statistics to consider – Singapore’s Public Debt, which is entirely Domestic, grew by 132 per cent from $125,777 to $291,502 million, from 1999 to 2009, and by the highest percentage in one year at 14.1 per cent in 2009, over the last 10 years.
Casinos To Bolster GDP – really?
In the same report, the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) claimed that increasing visitor arrivals, drawn by the Integrated Resorts, will continue to bolster tourism in Singapore”. However what MIT doesn’t mention is the extent of the growth and whether the casinos are catering to tourists or locals.
In this connection, I refer to media reports (“$38.6m boost for social service”, Channel NewsAsia, Sep 20), that the Singapore Totalisator Board (Tote Board) will increase its contributions to the National Council of Social Service (NCSS) by nearly $39 millon.
The report states that “over the next three financial years – between 2010 and 2012 – the Tote Board will provide $164.8 million to the Tote Board Social Service Fund, which the NCSS manages, which is an increase of 31 per cent from the previous three-year budget of$126.2 million.”
This works out to an increase of about $13 million a year.
Five days earlier, the Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS) told Parliament that in the seven months since the opening of the two integrated resorts, there have been more than one million visits by locals to the casinos (“More than one million visits by locals to casinos in IRs”, Channel NewsAsia, Sep 15).
Does this mean that the $100 casino levy collection is about $100 million to-date ($100 times 1 million visits)?
This estimate may not be very accurate, as no breakdown has been given of the $100 per entry and $2,000 per year levies.
Since the Minister told Parliament in May, that as at 10 May 2010, the total casino levy collection was about $70 million, and that all casino levies are paid to the Tote Board, why is it that only about $13 million a year’s increase in funding is being given to NCSS?
How will the rest of the estimated $171 million casino levies collection in a year be spent?
Singaporeans were told during the Parliamentary debate on casinos that the levies would be used to help the poor. But if $70 million was collected after just 86 days of Resorts World Sentosa’s (RWS) opening on 14 February, and 14 days of Marine Bay Sand’s (MBS) opening on 27 April, how is it that only about $100 million is estimated to have been collected after seven months of their opening?
Shouldn’t the figure be around $200 million, unless casino levies declined substantially between 10 May and September?
So, is the move than one million visits by locals, the number of unique visitors, or the number of visits?
How many tourists visited the casinos, compared to locals?
Over one million locals in seven months, works out to about 150,000 a month.
Since tourist arrivals are about 950,000 a month this year, in order for the number of tourists visiting the casinos to be say just two times that of the over one million locals, does it mean that about one in three tourists which includes children, visited the casinos?
Finally, how much of RWS’s reported $5.6 million profits per day, and MBS’s projected $1.3 billion Ebitda (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation) for the year, will be derived from locals’ gambling revenues?