Temasek’s chairman Lim Boon Heng (the chap who cried when voting for casinos) was quoted by BT on 31 March as saying, “Coming from a little island nation with no natural resources except for some granite rocks, we are not a sovereign wealth fund in the normal sense of the term,” he said at a reception to mark the opening of Temasek’s new European office in London last Friday.
“Instead, we invest capital accumulated from generations of hard work and commitment by everyone in Temasek and the Temasek portfolio companies,” said Mr Lim in a speech at the Millennium Mayfair Hotel.
Well, I could reasonably say that he is talking rot*. It could be reasonably argued that part or most of money saved (via budget surpluses) could have been be more productively spent on making life better for S’poreans. It could have been spent on
– more hospital beds (http://www.tremeritus.com/2014/03/13/gan-says-hospital-beds-increased-by-30-really/),
– better public transport (Using back-of-the envelope calculations and figures in annual reports, since it was listed SMRT (over a decade ago) has paid S$562.79m in dividends to Temasek, and ComfortDelgro has paid the S’pore Labour Foundation (a statutory board affiliated to the NTUC) dividends of S$150.46m since 2003 (Comfort and Delgro merged in 2003, and SLF had a stake in Comfort). The amount that ended up with the government was S$713.25m, with SMRT contributing 79%. But ComfortDelgro is likely be the main beneficiary of the S$1.1bn bus plan) (Italics added at 6.55am),
– low cost public housing (remember Mah saying that lowering the cost of land cheaper was raiding the reserves http://atans1.wordpress.com/2011/04/17/what-are-in-our-reserves-a-revisit/. Link also describes how budget surpluses and the reserves are linked),
– welfare for the elderly and needy. and
The list for the productive use of govt revenue rather than to play roulette or baccarat (OK, OK invest) can go on and on.
Leading local economists (not juz a wannabe opposition politican) have made this point about better uses of govt money than squirreling it away for a rainy day that never comes**. They juz don’t get reported by our constructive, nation-building media.
But maybe the govt is changing its attitude and Temasek is leading the way?
Olam is into sustainable, ecofriendly agriculture.
Sor and farmers from 36 communities in the Juabeso/Bia district are part of a project to produce climate-smart cocoa, claimed to the the world’s first. The $1m, three-year pilot collaboration between Rainforest Alliance (RA), an environmental organization, and Olam International, agricultural company, offers financial incentive to the farmers.
In the wild, cocoa trees grow under taller trees, which protect them from the scorching sun. But in Ghana as in neighbouring Ivory Coast, which together account for more than half the global supply, cocoa is grown as a monoculture.
“I had a lot of trees on my farm, but I cut and burned them. I thought they brought diseases, were a nuisance and took the place of cocoa,” says the mother of four, who owns a 4-acre farm in Eteso. “I didn’t know about the importance of shade trees until I joined the group.”
Three cheers for Olam and Temasek for helping African farmers. Next stop S’pore SMEs?
Maybe Temasek is experimenting in Africa. Next an investment in a S’pore based co that helps S’poreans? Charity begins at home.
BTW, nice to see that GIC opened an office in Brazil. About time as Latin America is becoming unfashionable among the ang mohs.
GIC opened an office yesterday in Brazil, as it looks for more investment opportunities in Latin America.
The new office – its 10th globally – will focus on areas such as real estate, healthcare, financial and business services, and natural resources and infrastructure.
“Our presence in Brazil will enable our partners to engage early and interact closely with the GIC team, which is very beneficial for complex and sizeable investments,” said group chief investment officer Lim Chow Kiat.
“We believe our partners will gain from having access to GIC’s global network of business contacts and market insights. Although emerging markets remain volatile, we are confident of the long-term Latin America growth story.” (Yesterday’s BT).
These countries need capital, now that the ang mohs no longer like the area. China is investing there, BTW.
*One of these days I’ll blog why ever since Devan Nai, Lim Chee Onn and Ong Teng Cheonf, we’ve had clowns as NTUC leaders. Lim may have been a failure as NTUC leader (Devan Nair fixed him), he he turned out to be a gd for Keppel, for which I’m grateful.)
**I hope thyose who think the world of Ong Teng Cheong realise that he wanted to look away even the returns from reserves away from the masses. Lee Hsien Loong and co got their way on using some of the returns on govt spending.