(Photo by Suhaimi Abdullah/Getty Images)

Relentless reserve accumulation practised by PAP govt comes as huge cost to S’poreans

Retired banker Chris Kuan, who spoke at forums organized by oppositions on Singapore's reserves as well as the estimated long-term return of our reserves, made several postings on his Facebook page recently to rebut some of the budget speeches made by PAP MPs.

Writing on his Facebook page, retired banker Chris Kuan pointed out that the "relentless" reserve accumulation practised by the PAP government is not free.

Chris said, "The PAP keeps telling Singaporeans there is no free lunch. Indeed so, there is also no free lunch when it comes to this relentless reserve accumulation - there are sacrifices, denial of welfare, acceptance of inequality among others."

In other words, it comes as a huge cost to the people.

"So again how much does the government wants to deny citizens' welfare and how much does it want citizens to sacrifice to keep growing the reserves?" Chris asked.

"It is easy to talk about 'anchor', 'caution', 'prudence', 'stability' when you do not actually put any numbers to what you are saying and you do not even acknowledge the socioeconomic consequences of this relentless reserves accumulation," he added, criticizing the PAP MPs for using all those motherhood statements without substance during the budget debates.

"This kind of speech is more pure wind than solidity, mere decorum for the most important day in the Parliamentary calendar," he said.

Relentless reserve accumulation burdens the people considerably

Ultimately, the strong reserves come from the sacrifices of Singaporeans through paying all the direct and indirect taxes plus high property prices which entail the government selling state lands to the people at enormous prices.

Indeed, if one was to look at the budget surplus for the last decade as defined by IMF, which includes land sales and investment receipts, except for 1 year during the global financial meltdown period, Singapore has achieved double-digit billion dollar surplus consistently every year.

Followings are total budget surplus including earnings from land sales as well as investment receipts acknowledged by the government (it is hidden somewhere inside singstat.gov.sg website):

In 2016, it was recorded as $22.2 billion. In some years like 2011 to 2013, it even hit records of more than $31 billion for each year.
The reason why the government has to include land sales as well as investment receipts into surplus in the above table is because it has to submit the data by international standard yearly to IMF. That is why at the bottom of the table, the Singapore Dept of Statistics (DOS) added a qualifying statement:

"Presentation format of the table follows that of the National Summary Data Page for Singapore, which disseminates the data prescribed by the International Monetary Fund's Special Data Dissemination Standards. Data in the table represent a broader definition of Government revenues and receipts than what are permissable for Government spending as presented in each year's Budget Statement."

Large part of land sales taken up by ordinary Singaporeans through purchase of HDB flats

The bulk of the land sales is actually absorbed by ordinary Singaporeans since majority of them pay the government to live in a HDB flat for 99 years. Most, of course, have to take huge housing loans to pay for the next 20 to 30 years for the HDB flats. They have to carry this huge burden for the next 20 to 30 years, ensuring that they continue to stay healthy to work and praying that they don't get retrenched in their later years.

Essentially, Singaporeans have become slaves to their flats as well as slaves to help Singapore build up our huge reserves, estimated to be $1 trillion now by mainstream media.

That is why several years ago, when WP suggested in Parliament to lower HDB flat prices by paying less for state lands, then National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan said this would amount to an "illegal raid on the reserves, leaving less for future generations".

But the plain truth is for those future generations buying new HDB flats, they too will still be paying sky high prices for state lands and continuing to help build reserves, not forgetting that they will also be struggling for the next 20 to 30 years to service their home mortgages.

In essence, the reserves have literally suck out our lifelong sweat, blood and tears. And what do we get out of building such a ginormous reserves?

So, like what Chris has questioned, "How much does the government wants to deny citizens' welfare and how much does it want citizens to sacrifice to keep growing the reserves?"

And now, PAP MPs have all voted in Parliament to increase GST furthermore.