Mechanisms in place to balance risks and benefits of privatisation

Despite the greater risk exposure that privatisation brings, it would be unwise to reject the benefits that it has brought Singapore ("Not too late to reverse ills of privatisation" by Mr Eric Teo Hong Kiat; Nov 30).

Singapore's style of public-sector management continues to be cautiously weighed and managed, in order to synergise the gains that private and public sectors can provide.

Although Mr Teo gave examples of privatisation that appear to raise cause for concern, they do not represent the bulk of what privatisation gains have brought to our society.

For example, without privatisation of the Telecommunication Authority of Singapore's service division in the 1990s, one would find it difficult to imagine the greater consumer welfare we have enjoyed.

The Government still maintains a strategic stake in many privatised and corporatised entities, which reassures society that there is careful management of greater privatisation measures.

As Singapore continues to steer itself through this uncertain economic environment, privatisation unlocks more resources for the Government to strategically target governance areas that can enhance our state and societal interests better.

As long as adequate and reasonable risk sharing and regulatory mechanisms are in place, the Government remains on top of the situation - not marginalised and endangered, as Mr Teo has suggested.

We should not throw the baby out with the bathwater, but explore ways to hedge against this risk exposure instead.

Tan Aik Seng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 01, 2016, with the headline 'Mechanisms in place to balance risks and benefits of privatisation'. Print Edition | Subscribe