by Khush Chopra
The size of the people’s reserves are a matter of great speculation.
The total size of Singapore’s total reserves is a state secret but estimated by most analysts to exceed the $1 trillion mark; the figure being pieced together through the Government’s official statement of assets and liabilities in the Finance Minister’s annual budget statement and other sources of information.
We were once again told in Parliament yesterday that the size of Singapore’s reserves is a national secret that cannot be revealed to the good people of Singapore.
According to the Prime Minister-in-waiting Heng Swee Keat: Singapore’s reserves serve as a “strategic defence” to protect the Singapore dollar from speculative attacks and bolster the confidence of investors and citizens
He argues:

“No country’s armed forces will ever tell you exactly how much ammunition and weaponry they really have. “To do so is to betray valuable intelligence to potential adversaries. This is obviously not a wise defence strategy, and likewise should not be adopted for our financial reserves.”

Let me deal with the two arguments made in Parliament yesterday.

First the new argument as to the defence forces munitions is totally non sequitor. It’s a non starter. Our reserves are simply not the subject of raiding by an aggressor.

Our reserves are not a tradeable asset that can be attacked by anyone save for the imprudence of its deployment from the custodians of the reserves namely the Government of the day and we have sufficient safeguards against such a raid.

The other argument made ad nauseam, as to our reserves being kept secret as a “strategic defence” to protect the Singapore dollar from speculative attacks and bolster the confidence of investors and citizens is equally illogical as it simply does not follow from the revelation of the actual size of Singapore’s reserves.

Speculative attacks arise from weakness to start with; whatever the reasons for that episode of weakness may be.

Is the Government suggesting the size of our reserves are so surprisingly weak that we will be attacked? That would be quite a revelation and runs counter to popular knowledge, information and belief.

In any case there is limited supply of the Singapore dollar as it is simply not an international currency and we can defend it stoutly if the need arises making the speculators pay for any short selling of our otherwise solid currency.

Does anyone buy the People’s Action Party (PAP) Government’s arguments?

Is confidence borne out of transparency or secrecy and speculation?

Is the size of our reserves a deterrent to speculative attacks against the dollar or an invitation to attack it?

What is the real reason you are keeping the size of our reserves a secret? What are you really afraid to reveal?

Our reserves are the people’s money. The state has no source of money save from the taxpayers. Tell us the size of our reserves.

Transparency is the mother of strength and confidence. Transparency is the best “strategic defence” not secrecy.

 

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