GOVT NEEDS TO TRUST S’POREANS MORE & BE TRANSPARENT WITH DATA?

Trust the people, share govt data

According to the Straits Times article “Trust the people, share govt data” by Kishore Mahbubani (Jun 13) – “Last year, Singapore was ranked 63rd on the Global Open Data Index, tying with Bangladesh, Bermuda, Nepal, Senegal and Tunisia.

Low transparency according to WikiLeaks

There are transparency concerns even in the business arena. A WikiLeaks cable from 2009 said: “Some US and other foreign firms have found the lack of transparency from the Singapore government and its government-linked corporations (GLCs) a serious challenge in operating in Singapore…”

What S’poreans want to know?

Perhaps the most significant and contentious statistics that Singaporeans need and want transparency are:

HDB

… the breakdown of the price of HDB flats into the construction and land costs (60% estimated?) , so that we can estimate the amount of “profits” that the HDB has made in the last 55 years on the sale of flats.

With about 25,000 new flats sold last year, if we assume the average price per flat to be $200,000 – the “profits” from the “land costs” may be about $3 billion a year (25,000 flats x $120,000 (60% of $200,000)).

Over the years, this cumulative loss (“profits”) by the people including accrued interest may be in the hundreds of billions.

CPF

… the historical weighted average interest on all the CPF accounts, and the annualised returns of GIC since its inception, so that we can estimate the average difference in the returns (3% estimated) derived from our CPF funds that were not returned to CPF members.

With estimated CPF balances of about $270 billion now – the loss (“excess returns”) to CPF members in a year may be about $8.1 billion (3% of $270 billion).

Over the years, this cumulative loss (“excess returns”) by the people including accrued interest may be in the hundreds of billions too.

Healthcare

… the historical excess (few hundred million estimated) of annual Medisave contributions against annual public healthcare spending and total withdrawals ($2.5 billion in 2014 for direct medical expenses and insurance premiums) from Medisave.

Over the years, this cumulative sum including accrued interest may be in the billions of dollars.

Education

… the total amount spent in a year on foreigners and permanent residents’ (PRs) scholarships and tuition grants, at all educational levels ($500 million estimated).

Over the years, this cumulative loss (money to foreign students instead of Singaporeans) plus accrued interest may also be in the tens of billions.

Govt not spending any money on CPF, HDB & healthcare? 

In the final analysis, if we have transparency on the above statistics – we may realise that from a cashflow perspective – the Government may not have been spending a single cent on CPF, HDB and healthcare.

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