Business & Economy PA's budget dwarfs rest of economically critical stat board's

PA's budget dwarfs rest of economically critical stat board's

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By: Michael Tan
In the midst of a rare family feud between PM Lee and his sister Lee Wei Ling over the commemoration of the one year anniversary of their father’s death, it was revealed in the article (https://theindependent.sg/pm-lee-are-you-sure-lky-commemoration-was-ground-up-effort/) that close to $1 billion budget has been allocated to the People’s Association, a government statutory board, for this year.
By the way, news of the Lee family feud has already made its way internationally (see: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-36012257).
In any case, it has been observed that some $900 million was allocated for PA’s expenditure in FY2016, even though SG50 celebration had already been over last year. According to the government budget posted online (http://www.singaporebudget.gov.sg/budget_2016/RevenueandExpenditure/Annex.aspx), PA’s expenditures are as follows:
FY2014 – $665,222,779 (Actual)
FY2015 – $943,719,900 (Estimated) – 30% increase but probably due to SG50 celebration
FY2016 – $898,186,100 (Budgeted) – remain high even after SG50
Upon further examination of the government budget, it was also revealed that PA’s budget is much greater than those of the other statutory boards in FY2016. These statutory boards are critical to the economic growth and survial of Singapore:
Spring Singapore (SPRING) – $243,862,500
SPRING’s mission is to help Singapore enterprises grow and to build trust in Singapore products and services.
International Enterprise (IE) Singapore – $155,281,500
IE helps promote overseas growth of Singapore-based enterprises and international trade. It focuses on growing the pool of Singapore enterprises that can internationalise and anchor their core capabilities in Singapore. It also serves the broad-based internationalisation needs of Singapore companies at large. Furthermore, IE helps promote the development of Singapore’s international trade, including domestic export and re-export of goods.
Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) – $489,674,500
A*STAR’s mission is to advance science and develop innovative technology to further economic growth and improve lives in Singapore. It undertakes research to enhance the competitiveness of Singapore’s industry clusters, seed new areas of growth, and create value for the Singapore economy. It also plays a critical role in developing the national base of PhD research manpower and establishing major research infrastructure.
Economic Development Board (EDB) – $587,534,900
EDB’s mission is to help create for Singapore a sustainable economic growth with vibrant business and good job opportunities. It plans and executes economic strategies to enhance Singapore’s position as an essential and strategic Global-Asia hub for business, innovation and talent. It also facilitates and supports local and foreign investors in both the manufacturing and exportable services sectors as they seek value-creating operations, high sustainable returns and new business opportunities. More importantly, it explores new growth areas to try and create good jobs for Singaporeans and enhance Singapore’s future competitiveness.
Singapore Tourism Board (STB) – $340,322,800
STB champions the development of Singapore’s tourism sector, one of the country’s key service sectors and economic pillars, and undertakes the marketing and promotion of Singapore as a tourism destination. The tourism sector currently contributes 4 per cent to Singapore’s gross domestic product and supports some 160,000 jobs.
Jurong Town Corporation (JTC) – $62,533,600
JTC develops strategic, innovative and critical industrial infrastructure/facilities/resources to enhance Singapore’s global competitiveness as an investment location and support the ongoing national economic restructuring agenda.
And what about PA?
For $900 million this year, PA helps to promote racial harmony and social cohesion in Singapore. It said that its mission is to build and bridge communities in achieving “one people, one Singapore” (https://www.pa.gov.sg/About_Us).
Its website said, “PA offers a wide range of programmes to cater to Singaporeans from all walks of life – connecting people to people, and people and government. We do this through our network of 1,800 grassroots organisations (GROs), over 100 Community Clubs, five Community Development Councils, National Community Leadership Institute and Water-Venture.”
In light of the slower economic growth and fewer job opportunities which Singaporeans would be experiencing in the near future, shouldn’t we be spending more money on those statutory boards critical in promoting economic growth and job creations for our people? Where is the sense of proportionality?
Or does PA only help to create jobs for those “linked” to the PAP?
It is interesting to note that when Mr Lee Kuan Yew was alive, he once made a comment about the close relationship between PAP and PA. He was commenting on what the PRC officials had observed when they were visiting Singapore.
He said, “They (PRCs) discover that the People’s Action Party (PAP) has only a small office in Bedok. But everywhere they go, they see the PAP – in the RCs (residents’ committees), CCCs (citizens’ consultative committees), and the CCs (community clubs).”
And in Singapore, all RCs, CCCs, CCs and grassroots organizations fall under the purview of PA.

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