What’s up Doc?
012: What’s up Doc? Or who needs a carrot when you own the farm?
In a report in the ST dated 5th Feb 2011*, PM Lee is quoted as saying, ‘I think everybody will be hoping for bigger hongbao and I’m sure the Finance Minister will know what to do.’
I’m also sure the Finance Minister will know what to do. The PM has told him to give the people pocket money, maybe an orange or two and he will obey. After all what’s a billion dollars or two in the context of a budget surplus of over 10% of GDP and a net asset position of hundreds of billions of dollars.
With elections around the corner, the incumbents are obviously confident that the electorate will be swayed by a dangling carrot on a stick and that the carrot will not only induce good night vision but also amnesia.
I hope through the articles on this blog to show you why you don’t need the carrot as you own the land on the farm in which it was grown. That land was tilled and fertilised with your toil and sweat.
As I pointed out in an article on 4th December 2010**, if interest and investment income is included, the total Government surplus for 2010 is likely to be over $30 billion. In fact surpluses of around 10% of GDP have been racked up regularly over the last ten years. And this probably excludes the gains on Temasek and GIC investments as well as not counting the gain in value of the 79% of Singapore’s land ultimately owned by the SLA. In fact this year the government could afford to give a tax rebate or extra spending of $10,000 per Singaporean while not dipping into reserves. But they’d need a bigger red packet.
Next time your government talks about giving you something, remember that you own the farm. Our sovereign wealth funds have been built up by our people scrimping and saving and going without services that are taken for granted in other rich countries. You never received a proper explanation for how much money was lost in 2008 in Temasek and GIC. No heads rolled and you never found out why Chuck Goodyear resigned. The farm land is surrounded with three lines of razor wire and KEEP OUT signs for Singaporeans. Time that we had a Freedom of Information Act, I think.
I have previously proposed privatizing Temasek and GIC and listing them on our stock exchange whereupon they would be required to be open and transparent about their performance. Shares would be distributed to all Singaporeans which you would be encouraged to hold for the long-term. After all their assets ultimately belong to you!
It is time to hire a new manager for your farm. One with your interests at heart.