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Posts Tagged ‘Ministry of Finance’

Forgot (ignored?) asset inflation?

In Economy, Media, Property on 30/10/2019 at 8:32 am

(Scroll down to read My Comments, if you are adverse to bullshit, from our constructive, nation-building media as they add spin to a MoF report .)

Singaporeans in their 40s better educated, earn more than past cohorts

Constructive, nation-building ST screamed

MediaCorp’s free BS sheet said

Younger Singaporeans in their 40s are more educated and better able to find jobs, they are earning and saving more, and they are on track to longer healthier lives than citizens between the ages of 50 and 79, a new report has found.

The report, released on Tuesday (Oct 22) by the Ministry of Finance (MOF), tracks how socio-economic outcomes have shifted across generations. The study tapped data from the Department of Statistics, and the Health and Manpower ministries.

The report, titled Key Socio-economic Outcomes Across Cohorts, studied a repertoire of socio-economic indicators: Educational attainment; employment and savings; residential-property ownership; health; and family support.

Younger Singaporeans fared better than those in the preceding generations across the majority of these indicators.

Read more at https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/younger-sporeans-better-able-find-jobs-earn-and-save-more-older-citizens-mof-report

My Comments

So what all this gushing to do with the price of eggs? Or rather with the standard of living when the price of assets go up a lot more than salaries?

Here are two examples.

When I started work in the late 70s, I my monthly salary was slightly more than $1000. If I had been married, we would not have been eligible for an HDB flat. If I were starting work today, my starting pay would be around $5,000. HDB’s eligiblity is now $15,000 a month (I think) for a married couple.

With $15,000 entry point the for “affordable” public housing, waz the point of faring “better than those in the preceding generations across the majority of “educational attainment; employment and savings; residential-property ownership; health; and family support”?

The rocketing costs of housing (public and private) have way exceeded the increases in salaries. A new HDB flat in the early 80s in Eunos was $30,000 or thereabouts. Now a BTO four room (actually smaller) could be between $300,000 and $500,000, depending on the locality. Have salaries increased like that? Only for PAP ministers.

And don’t get me started on car ownership. When I joined the workforce, the price of cars had just gone thru the roof (Remember COV?) but I could juz about own one on the never-never. My friend recently told me that his daughters, one a recently graduated doctor and the other an admin service officer (she’s a overseas merit scholar who graduated three yrs ago) can’t afford to own cars. They and their future husbands are saving for the deposit for HDB flats

Read Election goodies: proves the point that PAP needs to be spurred?, written before 2011 GE and remember to vote wisely.

GST: Even economists tot GST could go up

In Economy, Political governance, Public Administration on 11/03/2018 at 10:44 am

I quoted a senior lawyer

If the G thinks the earlier remarks were clear and categorical, so that citizens could have no doubts, how does it explain why so many reputable economists were willing to entertain thoughts of an increase this decade?

PAP voter cheers on Auntie, says Fu talking cock 

A pal of mine posted on the FB post where this quote originally appeared

The economists even factored in an increase in their analysis of GDP growth. Btw, I’m one who tot that GST would not go up this yr because it would contradict what Tharman said in 2015 and because it would make no sense effectively “locking up” the increase for 2018- 2020 because there’ll be a new govt by 2021.

The retired GIC Chief Economist waded in

…my respected economist friends were similarly unsure if GST would be raised this time after attending pre budget MOF briefings, even with Minister Heng.

Here’s what the constructive, nation-building rag of MediaCorp had to say about the economists changing their forecasts after the Budget speech

The Budget’s one-off cash handouts and delay in the goods and services tax (GST) hike, which will kick in sometime between 2021 and 2025, prompted Credit Suisse to raise its 2018 economic growth forecast for Singapore from 3 per cent to 3.3 per cent.

Taken together, these would boost growth domestic product (GDP) as well as private consumption, the bank said in a research note, as it raised its private consumption growth forecast to 3.6 per cent, up from 2.9 per cent.

Credit Suisse economist Michael Wan said the bank had previously factored in a 2-percentage point GST hike for its macro forecasts. “We, together with most other economists, were forecasting GST rates to rise this year,” wrote

Mr Wan, who described Monday’s announcement on the delayed GST increase as among the “surprises” of Budget 2018.

Other economists who had expected a GST hike to be implemented either this year or next agreed that the delay would bring a “minor boost” to consumption spending. Nevertheless, they left their GDP forecasts unchanged.

Commenting on the Credit Suisse report, Mr Bernard Aw, principal economist at IHS Markit, said consumers are expected to bring forward “large purchases” ahead of the GST hike.

UOB economist Francis Tan said he is keeping to his earlier forecast of 2.8 per cent GDP growth this year, which was based on a 1 percentage point GST hike this year. Nevertheless, he acknowledged that the delay of the GST hike “provides some upside”. He added: “Whenever there is a higher tax, people reduce their purchases.”

Maybank Kim Eng economist Chua Hak Bin is also maintaining his 2018 GDP forecast at 2.8 per cent, as he had expected the GST hike to be implemented next year. Private consumption is expected to improve from last year but it is unlikely to exceed 3 per cent this year, he said. “The jobs market looks to be improving and that will support consumer spending,” he added.

Both Mr Tan and Mr Chua, however, did not think that the impact of the hongbao handouts would be significant enough to lift GDP growth. Some Singaporeans may choose to save the money instead of spending it, Mr Tan noted. “In that aspect, these are not material handouts,” he said.

The reason I quoted so extensively is to show that “after attending pre budget MOF briefings, even with Minister Heng” the economists felt it necessary to factor in a GST rise in their forecasts.

 

Heng needs AI to help him in making Budget forecasts

In Economy, Political governance, Public Administration on 20/02/2018 at 9:41 am

Because if my favourite fortune-teller had made the Budget surplus prediction of S$1.91bn that Heng made in 2017, she would lose all credibility. The 2017 surplus is S$9.6bn: 5 times or 503% bigger than projected last year. This is a miss of S$7.7bn, or, as Chris K points out, nearly 1.8% of GDP.

As usual the “blame” for the whooping error is put on stamp duty. And the next PM said this is a one-off. If I recall, this has happened more than a few times already. Still a one-off?

But Heng and the rest of MoF, and the entire PAP administration are not held accountable for getting the 2017 projected surplus horribly wrong.

Yesterday morning, in Budget: Consistently flawed/ Use more from Reserves meh?, I pointed out that the previous year’s Budget surplus is always bigger than predicted because

Consistently expenditures will be found to have been overestimated, and revenues underestimated

And that this tot was triggered by FT’s description of a Japanese mgt practice

[T]he pattern is too consistent for comfort, often strays into the deliberately deceptive, and is carried out as part of a habit of systemic conservatism

Let me be clear. I am not accusing anyone in MoF or the govt of being  “deliberately deceptive”. Here in S’pore, the pattern of underestimating revenue and overestimating expenditure “is too consistent for comfort and is carried out as part of a habit of systemic conservatism”).

Chris K spotted two more whopping misses in 2017 that are likely to be repeated based on the forecasts for 2018

Land sales revenue is estimated to be 12,2b for 2018 but for 2017, land sales revenues are revised from 8.2b to 12.9b. A revenue miss of 4.7b.

Investment income pertaining to interest and dividends only is estimated at 11.5b for 2018. But for 2017, it was revised from 10.5b to 17.5b, a whopping miss of 7b. Why I say whopping? Interest and dividends from an investment portfolio are fairly predictable, what is not predictable is the change in market value of investments. But the latter is not included so why such a large miss?

In total, both land sales revenues and investment income are 23.7b estimated for 2018 and revised upwards to 30.4b for 2017.

Facebook

Coming back to Heng and AI, maybe MoF should use IBM’s Watson cognitive computing innovation to help it improve its forecasting techniques.

After all in 2014,

DBS Bank and IBM today announced an agreement in which DBS will deploy IBM’s Watson cognitive computing innovation to deliver a next generation customer experience. This collaboration is part of an ongoing journey by DBS to shape the future of banking.

 

Budget: Consistently flawed/ Use more from Reserves meh?

In Economy, Political economy, Political governance on 19/02/2018 at 10:02 am

[Update at 5.25pm: Trumpets please

My prediction that GST increase would be announced but delayed is correct: Heng announced GST increase of 2% from 7% to 9% to “fund recurring government expenses”. Increase will take place between 2021 and 2025 in a progressive manner. Handouts of GST vouchers will be made permanent once the increase is put in place.]

“Thus has it always been, thus shall it ever be”.

The FT talking about how Japanese mgt do earnings guidance

[T]he pattern is too consistent for comfort, often strays into the deliberately deceptive, and is carried out as part of a habit of systemic conservatism*

reminds me of our Budget’s forecast of expenditures and revenues in the coming year. Consistently expenditures will be found to have been overestimated, and revenues underestimated when the next Budget comes around the following year.

The result?

Economists expect bumper surplus for 2017

Part of headline from today’s ST. ST went on to gush

United Overseas Bank economist Francis Tan expects an overall surplus of $3.1 billion for FY2017, compared with the official initial estimate of $1.91 billion. UOB’s econometric model projects that the Government may see $2 billion more in revenue than expected, due mainly to higher corporate income tax receipts and stamp duties.

Mr Tan expects corporate income tax revenue to hit $14.8 billion, higher than the official estimate of $13.6 billion. If so, corporate income tax would regain its place as the largest contributor to revenue, ahead of the projected $14.11 billion net investment returns (NIR) contribution.

“Thus has it always been, thus shall it ever be” as the saying goes.

So remember that expenditures will be overestimated, and revenues understimated when we are told in the Budget statement that GST has to be raised because expenditure is rising for welfare and other goodies.

================

So why is there is surplus still?

Between FY2007 and FY2016, Singapore’s revenue has grown from S$43 billion to S$83 billion, based on revised FY2016 estimates. Over the same period, however, government expenditure has more than doubled from S$33 billion to S$71 billion.

Constructive, nation-building Today

http://www.todayonline.com/singapore/pressures-main-revenue-sources-prompt-govt-look-ways-grow-pie

And Err what about using more from income from reserves** and designating land sales as revenue, not chips for Ho Ching and GIC?)

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Whatever, my bet is that there’ll be an announcement of a GST increase of 2 % but that the increase will be deferred so that Tharman’s promise will be kept

To be fair to PM Lee, both the MOF and he have clarified that consistent with DPM Tharmans 2015 remarks, we do not have to raise taxes before the end of the decade.

So there’s really no need to get our fiscal knickers into a twist about GST or income tax increases till after the next GE folks..

Countering PAP’s BS that taxes must go up

——————————–

*”Earnings guidance in markets everywhere is often a victim of the management instinct to lowball first so as to triumph later with an overshoot. In Japan, though, the pattern is too consistent for comfort, often strays into the deliberately deceptive, and is carried out as part of a habit of systemic conservatism. CEOs are not financially incentivised to reach for the stars, so opt for comfortable survival meeting targets they know are achievable.”

FT

**Long quote from https://www.theedgesingapore.com/how-will-singapore-fund-its-rising-budget-0

The reserve option

One other way of funding soaring spending on healthcare and social spending is to tap reserves built up over past decades. “If the government feels that, based on current revenue projections, it is not able to fund increased social spending and is looking for new sources of revenue, then its first consideration should be whether reserves should be tapped,” says Donald Low, associate dean at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.

In a chapter in a book he co-authored, Hard Choices, published in 2014, Low argues that it is the baby boom generation — the group of people now entering or in retirement and at whom increased healthcare and social spending is targeted — that contributed the most to the accumulation of national reserves. “A significant part of our reserves is the result of fiscal surpluses generated in the 1980s and 1990s — the period when the baby boom generation was most economically productive,” he wrote. “Now that the generation that contributed the most to our reserves is entering retirement, it is only fair from an intergenerational perspective that the state reverses part of that transfer.

“To impose the fiscal burden of looking after the needs of the baby boomers onto subsequent generations in the form of higher taxes while continuing to accumulate reserves is not only unequitable but also inefficient… because continuing with a strategy of growing our reserves regardless of context implies a negative discount rate — that is, we favour the interests of a future generation more than those of the current generation… which has immediate needs.”

Singapore has, in fact, been tapping more of the investment returns of its reserves in recent years. In FY2016, Temasek Holdings was included under the so-called Net Investment Returns framework, which allows the government to spend up to 50% of its expected long-term returns. That year, NIR Contribution amounted to $14.37 billion and helped turn a $5.59 billion basic deficit to an overall surplus of $5.18 billion. The NIRC was the single largest contributor to the government coffers in both FY2016 and FY2017.

The NIR framework was implemented in 2009 to include expected long-term real returns on the government’s net assets managed by GIC and the Monetary Authority of Singapore. It was a major change from the previous Net Investment Income framework, under which the government could only spend investment income comprising dividends and interest.

Yet, should Singapore not be careful about using its reserves to fund the Budget? Should we not hold on to it for that proverbial rainy day? “But isn’t it the case that future generations are likely to be richer, for one, and, with [total fertility rate] at 1.2, the future generation is going to be a smaller generation [too]?” Low retorts. “So, we’re saving for a future generation that’s likely to be richer and almost certainly a smaller cohort than the baby boom generation. That seems like a regressive transfer of resources.”

He adds, “I think we have a social obligation to reduce inequality. In Singapore’s context, given that the baby boom generation helped to accumulate a large part of our reserves, one way of reducing inequality would be to tap the reserves to fund their needs. Another would be to introduce or increase existing wealth taxes.”

Still, other analysts do not expect the government to make more changes to the NIR framework, at least for now. “I think it’s good policy to use the good times to save up for the future,” says Wan.

Why the PM doesn’t need friends

In Uncategorized on 22/11/2017 at 10:55 am

He has the SDP, and Mad Dog Chee and other anti-PAP cybernuts as enemies.

With PM and the PAPpies on the ropes over the SMRT, even nature seems to be against SMRT, the SDP, and Mad Dog Chee and other anti-PAP cybernuts, changed the conversation.

When I read this

The Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) has issued a statement regardingPrime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s recent warnings that tax increases are onset and “inevitable” as government spending is growing.

The SDP points out that back in the General Elections of 2015, Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam denied the SDP’s claims that there will be a GST increase, claiming that “there is no basis” to those claims.

TOC

I tot what a lot of BS. Mad Dog must (like M Ravi, until recently) be refusing to take his medicine.

As far as I was concerned there was no contradiction between what PM Lee (on Sunday) said and what Tharman said (in 2015 when he was finance minister) on taxes.

I was planning to blog about it today showing that the evidence that SDP and other anti-PAP types misrepresent, knowingly or stupidly or both, the facts when they accuse the PM of making a U-turn on raising taxes.

Luckily for me, MOF pointed out that there is no contradiction between PM’s comments on Sunday about an impending tax hike, and what DPM Tharman had said in 2015 on the adequacy of revenue.

MOF said that Tharman then the Finance Minister, said in 2015 that the revenue measures the govt had already undertaken would provide sufficiently for increased spending planned until the end of the decade.

MOF says out: “This is in line with Prime Minister Lee’s speech at the PAP convention on 19 November 2017, where the Prime Minister said, ‘For this current term of government, we have enough revenue.'”

The next election must be held sometime in 2021.

Can the chairman of SDP and the other RI doctors force medicine down Mad Dog’s throat, or if he has been taking his medicine, double the dosage please?

SDP’s statement in full:

During the general elections period in 2015, Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam denied the SDP’s warnings that the government would raise the GST.

At that time, he said that “there is no basis” to claims that the GST would be increased to fund increased public spending.

But Mr Lee Hsien Loong finally admitted yesterday at the PAP conference that it was inevitable that taxes would have to be raised to fund government spending.

While the PAP has so far not raised the GST after the elections, it has increased taxes and fees for a slew of items.

In 2016, the government increased carpark fees by as much as 27 percent. It has also raised ERP charges for several gantries as well as added new gantries on the expressways.

The government also announced plans to restrict vehicle growth rate to zero percent, thus ensuring that COE prices would skyrocket. It also has indicated that bus and train fares would go up. In 2016, it raised taxi-licence fees.

This year, it raised water prices by an alarming 30 percent.

PAP-run town councils also upped Service & Conservancy Charges by as much as $17 depending on the flat-type.

In addition, immediately after the GE in 2015 the PAP raised fees for its kindergartens and childcare centres. It increased the fees again in 2017.

Such hikes continue to pile pressure on Singaporeans who are already feeling the financial pain from the high cost of living and a slowing economy in Singapore.

During the Buklit Batok by-election last year, Minister Shanmugaratnam also accused the SDP of spreading “fear and alarm” through our alternative policy proposals.

Referring to the SDP’s call for universal healthcare and unemployment insurance, the DPM said that he was “troubled” by these populist policy proposals and that the SDP should tell the people that these programmes are not free.

The PAP has the habit of criticising the SDP during the elections and then quietly adopting our ideas thereafter. For example, the government introduced the Returner Work Trial this year which is essentially a retrenchment benefits scheme similar to the SDP’s that we proposed in 2010.

Also in 2012, the SDP proposed that our “individual health care risks be pooled” in a nationalised healthcare insurance programme. Three years later, the government introduced its Medishield Life, saying that “everyone shares in the national risk pool”.

Not only has the PAP copied our ideas, it now wants to increase taxes to pay for the programmes as stated by PM Lee in his party speech yesterday.

So the next time Mr Tharman accuses the SDP of proposing populist policies, he should also tell the public that his party is bankrupt of ideas and has to adopt the SDP’s proposals.

He should also be up front with the people and stop denying that our warnings of the government raising taxes have no basis.