Since the PAP was elected into government 60 years ago, it has been guided by the values of financial honesty, prudence, incorruptibility and transparency, said Second Minister for Finance Indranee Rajah, today (Oct 3, 2022) in Parliament.
Minister Indranee was rebutting Non-constituency Member of Parliament Leong Mun Wai’s allegations about government management of public expenditure.
Mr Leong had claimed that a “significant outlay” of taxpayers’ money was used to fund the SPH Media Trust and take back operations of the Sports Hub, using them to back his allegation that tax dollars were not “properly spent”.
“These assertions are without basis,” she said, who explained briefly why the government injected money into SPH Media Trust (SMT) and took back ownership of the Sports Hub.
Transaction for taking back Sports Hub is “financially neutral”
On the government taking over the ownership and management of the Sports Hub. Indranee said the key consideration was “the government’s desire to bring stronger community participation and activities to the Sports Hub and unlock the full potential of the Kallang Alive precinct”.
She also highlighted the benefits that came from the Public-Private Partnership (PPP), for instance, not having to bear the construction risk like cost of delays, defects and quality issues.
The cost of terminating this PPP was based on a formula that was already stipulated in the project agreement. It is comparable to what the government would have had to pay if it continued with the partnership.
“In other words, the entire transaction is financially neutral, because we are not paying…more than what we would otherwise have committed to under the PPP model.”
Support for local media important to prevent reliance on foreign media
On support for SMT, Indranee reiterated that doing so serves larger public interests.
The government support will enable SMT to “make long term investments in capability development in the areas of technology and talent”, ensuring that Singapore has a trusted, credible source of news and information for Singaporeans.
“Our local media companies provide citizens with a valuable Singaporean lens to make sense of global events. If they were to wither and fail, we would become reliant on foreign media that would not be in our national interests.“
She added that other governments, like those in France and Scandinavia, support their local media companies too.
Allegations are “cynical attempt to stoke anxiety and disquiet”
Pointing out that Leong repeatedly makes such baseless and illogical allegations despite having 30 years of experience in business and financial management, she said that there is only one explanation:
“…this can only be a deliberate and cynical attempt to stoke anxiety and disquiet, confuse Singaporeans, and damage the government.”
Urging Singaporeans and Parliamentarians to reject these bogus allegations, Minister Indranee called for support for the Government so that it can continue to “sustain good governance and sound policies”.
She rejected Leong’s insinuations that the government spends tax dollars carelessly, even pointing out that the present government has repeatedly rejected suggestions by the opposition to spend more of Singapore’s reserves.
“For our part, the PAP government will continue to exercise prudence in our public expenditure and act, as always, in the interests of Singaporeans and Singapore.”