Shouldn't airwave auction proceeds go into reserves?

Singapore has a prudent policy of channelling the proceeds of government land sales into its reserves, on the grounds that land is a non-replenishable resource that should be safeguarded for future generations, instead of being sold to finance current consumption.

As airwaves are also a scarce, non-replenishable resource, shouldn't the $1.14 billion collected from the recent mobile spectrum auction be also channelled into our reserves (Telcos pay $1.14b for mobile airwaves in govt auction; April 5)?

Yes, the tenures of spectrum use, at 13 to 16 years, are shorter than the 99 years for which state land is sold, but they are nonetheless much longer than a term of government.

Prudence suggests, therefore, that the proceeds should be safeguarded in the reserves instead of being used to finance expenditures of the current term of government.

Cheng Shoong Tat

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 07, 2017, with the headline 'Shouldn't airwave auction proceeds go into reserves?'. Print Edition | Subscribe