Saturday, 30 September 2023

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MAS records largest net loss of S$30.8 Billion amid strong Singapore dollar

SINGAPORE — The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) posted a record net loss of S$30.8 billion in the financial year 2022/2023, its largest ever, primarily due to a rise in the value of the Singapore dollar. Despite the loss, the central bank assured that this would not impact its ability to conduct monetary policy and support financial stability.

The loss was mostly due to negative currency translation effects on its official foreign reserves (OFR) as the local currency appreciated against the US dollar, euro, Japanese yen and British pound. These effects, which amounted to $21.4 billion, coupled with high interest expenses of $9 billion from absorbing excess liquidity in the banking system, resulted in the record net loss.

The strengthening of the Singapore dollar, an outcome of MAS’ exchange rate-based monetary policy, is aimed at offsetting imported inflation. The MAS has tightened its policy stance – thus strengthening the Singapore dollar – five times since October 2021, culminating in a slowing down of both headline inflation and core inflation since their peak in early 2023.

Presenting its annual report, MAS now forecasts 2023 headline inflation to be between 4.5% and 5.5%, a reduction from earlier predictions of 5.5% to 6.5%. MAS expects core inflation, which strips away accommodation and private transport costs, to be significantly lower, ranging between 2.5% and 3.0%.

However, the central bank warned that Singapore’s near-term growth outlook “remains uncertain with downside risks” due to concerns over global supply chain frictions, decline in global energy and food commodity prices, and potential easing of domestic wage growth.

MAS anticipates that the gross domestic product growth would be at the mid-point of the 0.5% to 2.5% range this year, a drop from 3.6% in 2022. MAS has left its monetary policy settings unchanged since April, underlining concern about the city-state’s growth outlook, particularly in the external-facing sectors.

In a farewell message, Chairman Tharman Shanmugaratnam, who has decided to retire from politics to stand as a candidate in the upcoming Singapore presidential election, assured that while inflation is still elevated, MAS’ five successive monetary policy tightening moves have broken the momentum of price increases. The post of MAS chair will be taken over by Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong.

MAS ended the financial year with total capital and reserves at S$34.3 billion. Given the record loss, the central bank will not contribute to the government’s consolidated fund, nor return profits to the government for the financial year. As a conservative measure, MAS increased its issued and paid‐up capital by S$25 billion to S$50 billion.

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