Money to bail out sick banks.
Below is an extract from an email that came to me. It shows how much money we have to invest in sick banks which I agree is a great opportunity given to us and a risk worth taking. But I also share the author's sentiment about why we were so desperate to need to raise GST by another 2% to help the poor when we actually have so much money to bail out sick banks. (I have omitted copying the cynical and naughty parts of the arguments as I am not sure of the source of this article.) In the past year alone, the Singapore government ¡V through its investment arms of Temasek and GIC - invested a whopping $34, 560, 000, 000.00 in various investments worldwide. That's $34.56 billion. GIC: UBS - $14 billion British Land - $388 million Citigroup - $9.8 billion US Hedge Fund - $429 million Temasek: British Bank Barclays - $4.3 billion Merrill Lynch - $5 billion Standard Chartered - $643 million And if you think the government is stretching itself too thin, no worries. GIC deputy chairman and executive director Tony Tan says the GIC has capacity to bail out another bank. (AFP) Now, government investments are not a bad thing, to be sure. Of course there are questions of transparency and accountability which some people have brought up. Be that as it may, what is even more troubling is another issue. This is the constant lament of the government about not having enough money or financial resources to deal with Singapore 's ageing population, helping the poor, providing subsidized healthcare and so on. Thus, the government has introduced the GST hike to 7% ("to help the poor"), and is introducing the Compulsory Longevity Insurance (for our ageing population), and Means Testing (for healthcare). All of these are paid for by Singaporeans, in some way or another. In raising the GST to 7%, Channel NewsAsia reported PM Lee as saying: "Mr Lee explained that the hike was necessary to finance the enhanced social safety nets, needed to help the lower income group.." (CNA) The extra 2% will give the government a further $1.5 billion to finance "the enhanced social safety nets, needed to help the lower income group". Now, if the GIC and Temasek Holdings have $34 billion to bail out ailing foreign banks, why does the government not have the money ( a mere $1.5b) to help poorer Singaporeans, which it says it needs? Why does the government not have enough money to spend more on the aged and healthcare? Contrast the obscene spending by the GIC and Temasek with the pathetic excuse given by MCYS minister Vivian Balakrishnan about giving those on public assistance a further $23 increase, which some MPs have asked for: "The government is reviewing the S$290 monthly public assistance (PA) allowance for needy Singaporeans to see if it should be increased. It is also conducting a separate review on the qualifying income limit for assistance, which currently stands at S$1,500 a month. The review is expected to be completed later this year." (CNA) (TOC) Why does the government need to have months of "review" to ascertain whether giving another $23 to those most in need is justified? If this is not the height of hilarity, then I don't know what is. It would be funny if it weren't so sad ¡V that our government would not blink an eye in spending billions bailing out foreign banks in risky undertakings while being so hardfisted about giving a mere $23 to its most vulnerable and needy citizens. Something is just not right. How did the government suddenly make $34.5 billion appear out of thin air when they were just lamenting, not too long ago, that they didn't even have $1.5 billion to help the poor? Now, the next time I hear the government says it does not have enough money and need to raise this and raise that to fund certain "programmes" to "help the poor", I will tell them: "Please stop....."