Mr Chairman, the PAP Government and some of its MPs like to invoke the claim of “raiding of reserves” to attack alternative policy ideas and proposals put up by the Opposition. In order to have a more productive debate in this House, it will be helpful to have an understanding of what constitutes “raiding of reserves”.
I would like to suggest 2 criteria to assess any new proposal that might affect the reserves. Firstly, the amount of expenditure required for the new proposal relative to the size of the reserves and Net Investment Return; and secondly, the purpose of the expenditure. Any proposal that passes these 2 criteria, where the amount involved is small relative to the reserves or even the Net Investment Return and serve an important purpose, should not be accused of “raiding the reserves”.
Let me illustrate the 2 criteria using the Affordable Homes Scheme which the Progress Singapore Party, PSP, recommended during the Public Housing motion on February 7.
During the debate, I explained that the Affordable Homes Scheme will only defer the accumulation of reserves because the deferred land cost will be collected when the flat is sold in future. And even if the whole deferred land cost of $3 billion per year is not collectible, it is only 6.4% of the Net Investment Return and 12.8% of the Net Investment Return Contribution. We do not even need to use our reserves. So we have passed Criteria 1 comfortably.
For Criteria 2, the money is to be spent on an important and noble purpose which is to make the HDB flat affordable and accessible for every Singaporean of each generation. It will allow Singaporeans to retire comfortably without having to sell his flat or downgrade. The financial security accorded is expected to unleash the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit in the Singaporeans and we will be able to better compete with the rest of the world. So we also passed Criteria 2.
Hence, based on the 2 criteria above, the Affordable Homes Scheme is an example of an alternative policy that does not constitute “raiding of reserves”. In future, if the Government make such accusations again, I will call them “baseless allegations”.
Singaporeans deserve better.
For Country For People.