Martin Lee @ Sg
Sharing is Caring!

Singapore Debt Position and AAA Rating

Based on an article published in Fortune Magazine’s on 15th August 2011, Singapore was the eighth most indebted country in the world.

Fortune said that Singapore had debts of US$254 billion (S$307 billion), equivalent to 95% of its gross domestic product (GDP).

MOF has clarified that the Fortune Magazine’s article is misleading as it only looks at Singapore’s liabilities and not its assets.

MOF maintains that Singapore’s financial reserves are well in excess of its debt and that Singapore is a debt creditor and not a debtor.

Part of Singapore’s reserves, which includes not just its financial assets but also it’s state land and buildings, are managed by Temasek Holdings and GIC.

Drawing on the past reserves requires the approval of the President of Singapore, who serves as a “second key” in safeguarding our reserves. For example, the current President, S R Nathan, has approved the use of our past reserves to fund land reclamation (a few times since 2001) and land acquisition for SERS projects (27 times since 2002).

In 2008, the reserves were also drawn down for a resilience package to help Singaporeans tide through the global financial crisis.

S&P has recently re-affirmed on Singapore’s long-term AAA rating.

Leave a Comment:

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.

11 comments
soros says 7 years ago

u are also believing in hearsay that it was soros who is responsible.. do more research before sounding stupid online

Reply
    Be Objective says 7 years ago

    I did not use the word “RESPONSIBLE”. Soros is not the cause for the crisis but he tapped on to the vulnerability to profit from it. And this is not from hearsay but rather from academic topics on monetary policies and currencies.

    Reply
Be Objective says 8 years ago

Instead of believing in hersay and allegations, why not believe in what you see and live through. Look at the state of our country and your own standard of living compared to many countries in the region. Even the Europeans and US is envying us right now. I have friends coming back from developed countries to seek jobs. So, how can we achieve all these if the government is as bad as you said? These days, people believe more in Internet than what they see and live through physically.

Reply
Be Objective says 8 years ago

Don’t be stupid. Which banks ever disclose how much reserves they have? There are many reasons why we need to keep our reserve as top secret. Can you imagine us being too transparent and allow our currency to be open for attacks and speculation from traders like George Soros? That’s what happened to pounds in 1992 and ringgit in 1997 crisis. Sometimes, i feel the citizens need a proper education on banking, finance and economic to really understand some of the things our government is doing instead of attacking them blindly. Do you think a country that constantly mis-use their reserve will become so prosperous like us? If so, then we are the only country in this world that has such a corrupt government and yet be able to prosper to such a stage, somemore achieving it without any resources. So we are out of this world? Corrupt and yet prosperous? This is really funny.

Reply
sender says 8 years ago

hi martin,
your article has nathan approved use of the reserves >27times since 2001 but during recent inauguration of TT as pres, PM Lee said the reserve has only been used once during nathan tenure. Who is right here? Either nathan or lee has become senile, or a rumoured article .

Reply
    Martin Lee says 8 years ago

    Sender,

    If you can’t convince them, confuse them. 😀

    Reply
sender says 8 years ago

i agree with mof’s take and S&P outlook. no need to paranoid.

I more concern that Pres Nathan has over the last 12 years of tenure has allowed govt to dip into reserves 27 times without our knowledge. All these whiles, we have been led to believe the reserves has only been touched once, only in the last financial crisis. So much cheap talks on “good” governance. Singaporeans really must think carefully who to vote Saturday to be the next Pres. I think better voting for a Pres who give you an annual report on what he has done for the past year, like how much reserves is being used; the state of your CPF money; new and or re-appointments of key office-holders, and other presidential undertakings and work reports; Singaporeans want fairness, justice, transparency, good governance (not just corporate governance, political governance, but presidential governance too.)

Reply
    Martin Lee says 8 years ago

    Dear Sender,

    Yes, I agree with you that we should have more transparency. An annual report or statement would help.

    Reply
xxx says 8 years ago

MOF’s reasoning is faulty. If simply just need to look at net assets, then even Greece is OK because the value of it’s state assets like land, islands, historical monuments etc is more than enough to pay off its debt.

The main issue is liquidity and short-to-medium term ability to honour debts and liabilities. You can own a million-dollar condo, but if you lose your job and unable to pay back $10K to the bank for your credit-line, you can be made bankrupt and force-sell your condo to pay off the loans.

MOF should have said that Singapore no problems paying off its debts and liabilities into the forseeable future because the majority of creditors (CPF holders) are under special & unique creditor terms such that the debtor (SG govt) can impose unilateral changes in terms & conditions for payback, quantum of payback, interest rates, extension of debt, debt rollovers etc, all wrapped up in the name of protecting the creditors and ensuring the creditors doesn’t spend all his principal money on booze and immoral living.

Reply
    Martin Lee says 8 years ago

    Well said!

    Reply
    Donaldson Tan says 8 years ago

    In the S&P Note explaining Singapore’s credit rating, it is written:

    “The sovereign’s net external position remains solid, underpinned by the
    virtual absence of external public sector debt, Mr. Phua said. Liquid external
    assets exceed external debt by an estimated 132% of current account receipts
    in 2010. This reflects a combination of fiscal prudence and continued high
    current account surpluses, which averaged 21.7% of GDP between 2005 and 2009.”

    I think that should clarify your doubt about short-term and medium-term liquidity of the Singapore government to respond to financial challenges.

    Reply
Add Your Reply

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.