Filing of Our Submission in the IMF Loan Case
Today I was at Madame Netto’s office to file my appeal in the case of the IMF Loan Commitment (Civil Appeal No. 154 of 2012). I expect the appeal to be heard sometime in April and hope for your support, both financial and moral. There are of course important constitutional issues involved, such as the sovereignty of Parliament and the function of Parliament and the Executive Presidency (EP) as a check on the Executive. There is the need to achieve greater transparency and accountability over how our government uses our reserves and particularly over its management of Temasek and GIC. There is also the moral question of why we should be prepared to commit $5 billion of our hard-pressed citizens’ precious money to support the profligate lifestyles of Eurozone members. While Singaporeans have had fifty years of never-ending austerity the citizens of these countries have long enjoyed a full-blown welfare state with free medical care, old age pensions and other benefits not available to us. $5 billion is more than our government spent on health in 2012.
Unfortunately our case failed at the first stage. The judge held that not only did the government not have to obtain Parliamentary and Presidential approval for a loan but that we did not have the locus standi to bring a case since it affected all Singaporeans. In so doing he removed an important constitutional right. He also opened the door to a possible future rogue government being able to give away all our reserves without any citizen being able to do anything about it.
Our appeal is on both these points. Not only do I think that the judge erred in agreeing with the AG that we had no locus standi to bring an action but I believe that even if you agreed with the government’s interpretation of Article 144, the IMF loan commitment is in the nature of a guarantee not a loan. Furthermore the IMF will pay close to zero interest should they draw on the loan. It involves almost certain loss for our taxpayers and CPF holders and thus the loan commitment should be viewed as a liability rather than an asset.
It will be interesting to see how the Court of Appeal views our arguments. I hope to be arguing the question of whether this is a liability or guarantee rather than an asset myself while M. Ravi should be arguing the locus standi issue. He has certainly done a lot of work on this.