SINGAPORE: On Wednesday (Feb 7), a seven-hour debate was held in Parliament on a motion filed by Progress Singapore Party (PSP) Non-Constituency MPs Leong Mun Wai and Hazel Poa toward a review of the Government’s policies on the Budget and reserves in light of the financial burdens Singaporeans are facing.

While The Workers’ Party supported the motion, it was rejected by the House, even though it passed an amended one that makes sure the government stays “fiscally responsible and sustainable.”

Four WP MPs—Leader of the Opposition Pritam Singh, his fellow Aljunied GRC MP Gerald Giam, Jamus Lim and Louis Chua, both from Sengkang GRC, explained the party’s reasons for supporting the motion from the NCMPs.

Mr Singh outlined three points concerning Singapore’s reserves.

First, the Government should be more open about the reserves, allowing for mature conversations about them.

Second, using over 50 per cent of the Net Income Returns Contribution (NIRC) should not be ruled out.

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“The Government should not close off the prospect of reviewing the NIRC formula to lessen the financial burden on Singaporeans and to explore policies that can improve social outcomes for Singaporeans,” he said.

Finally, he pointed out that many in the public believe that the country’s reserves are very healthy and will continue to

Increase due to land sales, the proceeds of which go directly into the reserves.

The Leader of the Opposition also called for establishing a Standing Select Committee to look into the health of Singapore’s reserves and how investment returns may be used more equitably in future.

Assoc Prof Jamus Lim, meanwhile, underlined who the reserve belongs to, saying:

“Our nation’s eye-watering reserve stock was built on the backs of sacrifices made by the past and present generations for the sake of future needs. Our nation’s reserves belong to the people, not the government.”

Like Mr Singh, Mr Giam also made the case for greater transparency concerning the country’s reserves. He said that not only would this improve governance, but it would also “foster a more inclusive and informed discussion” about Singapore’s future.

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“It will ensure that decisions regarding the use of our national wealth are made with the participation and understanding of citizens,” he added.

In a similar vein, Mr Chua called for sovereign wealth fund GIC to “adequately disclose its detailed investment performance… as well as corresponding risk analytics on at least an annual basis,” arguing that Temasek Holdings already does so.

The speeches of Messrs Singh, Giam, Lim, and Chua may be viewed in full on the WP Facebook page. /TISG