By Harry Yew
$8.5 billion top-ups to Endowment and Trust Funds
According to the 2015 Budget’s ANNEX C: FISCAL POSITION IN FY2015 – the Top-ups to Endowment and Trust Funds in FY2014 (revised) is $8.5 billion.
In every other country in the world, this would not be reflected in the Budget, under IMF fiscal reporting guidelines, as an expenditure – because this sum was not spent, but merely parked as an “accounting” vehicle from which the annual interest will be used as expenditure in future years.
$8.37 billion Budget surplus?
So, if we add this $8.5 billion back to the overall Budget deficit of $0.13 billion – we get a budget surplus of $8.37 billion, instead of a deficit.
More than $23.86 billion indirect and consumption taxes?
Although our income taxes appear to be relatively low compared to other countries – we have a lot of indirect and consumption taxes, such as motor vehicle taxes and COE ($5.48 billion), GST ($10.11 billion), etc.
Therefore, just these two items alone is already $15.59 billion.
$16.6 billion land sales revenue
There is also no mention of the revenue from land sales of $16.6 billion (estimated FY2014).
More than $24 billion budget surplus?
If we add this to the $8.37 billion derived above – we get $24.97 billion.
So, the actual Budget surplus is over $24 billion!
Why land sales not included?
As to “So, what does the IMF format include that is excluded from Singapore’s Budget Statement?”
Land sales revenue is not included as it is not available for spending. Under the Constitution, state land and revenues from land sales form part of Singapore’s Past Reserves.
Spending the revenues from land sales will mean drawing down on Past Reserves” – This explanation does not reflect the reality and practicality that most land are leasehold which the Government can top-up or change the lease tenure at expiry, arbitrarily, or acquire even freehold land under the Land Acquisition Act.
In other words, in essence, land revenue is perpetual and not a limited “reserves”.
Surplus of the Singapore government from 2006 to 2012