S'pore Savings Bonds: Stepping up publicity

Around 35,000 people across all age groups have invested about $970 million in Singapore Savings Bonds (SSBs) since they were launched in September last year, Mr Ong Ye Kung, the Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills), told Parliament yesterday.

But the take-up over the 14 bond issues is way below the $4 billion that the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) intended to issue during this calendar year alone.

To drum up more interest, MAS will launch another publicity effort next year, Mr Ong noted. "This has to be timed properly, such as waiting until the United States presidential election is over... and I think we have to reach out in a more concerted, proactive way," he said.

One reason for the low demand is that SSB interest rates have fallen over the past few months, in tandem with the drop in global bond yields.

"When global interest rates normalise, we should likewise expect them to influence Savings Bonds interest rates," Mr Ong added.

He was speaking on behalf of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister-in-charge of MAS Tharman Shanmugaratnam, in reply to a question from Mr Saktiandi Supaat (Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC).

  • $970m Amount invested in Singapore Savings Bonds (SSBs) since they were launched in September last year.

    35,000 Number of people across all age groups who have invested in SSBs.

Mr Saktiandi suggested that outreach efforts should focus on the young, highlighting the benefits of starting to save early in life.

Eligibility for SSBs starts at age 18. They are fully backed by the Government and can be redeemed early on a monthly basis without penalty.

Separately, Ms Sylvia Lim (Aljunied GRC) asked whether the Total Debt Servicing Ratio (TDSR) restrictions could be relaxed to allow borrowers to access more funds if they can offer unencumbered private property as collateral, even if they have breached the TDSR limits.

"We have situations where retirees who are reasonably rich are unable to get any loans at all because they have no income," she said.

Mr Ong replied that it is more prudent to leave the rules as they are. But he noted that lenders might approve property loan applications where the borrower's TDSR exceeds 60 per cent in exceptional cases, subject to approval by the lenders' credit committees.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 11, 2016, with the headline 'S'pore Savings Bonds: Stepping up publicity'. Print Edition | Subscribe