Singapore Budget 2018: Singapore must continue to preserve wealth, says Indranee Rajah

Senior Minister of State for Law and Finance Indranee Rajah speaking at the Reach Budget 2018 dialogue at the National Museum of Singapore on Feb 20, 2018. ST PHOTO: BENJAMIN SEETOR

SINGAPORE - Singapore's reserves were built up because the country's pioneering leaders were financially prudent and the Government plans to continue in this vein, Senior Minister of State for Finance Indranee Rajah said on Wednesday morning (Feb 21).

She was addressing questions raised after Monday's Budget speech, in which Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat explained why Singapore will not spend more than 50 per cent of the expected returns from investing its reserves.

Quoting the Chinese saying that wealth does not last beyond three generations, Ms Indranee said: "Time and time again, experience has shown that the first generation accumulates... the second generation preserves, and the third generation spends it."

But Singapore must be different, she added.

"The fourth generation of Singaporeans must continue to not only preserve but to grow the wealth that has been accumulated," she said.

Speaking on the sidelines of a visit to Fei Yue Community Services in Choa Chu Kang, Ms Indranee added that it is necessary for the Government to explore borrowing to fund upcoming infrastructure projects - such as Changi Airport's Terminal 5, the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail and the Tuas mega port - simply because they are so large.

These will be paid for by a mix of government funds, borrowing, and, in some cases, private-sector funding as well.

Senior Minister of State for Finance Indranee Rajah at the Fei Yue Community Services centre at Teck Whye Lane on Feb 21, 2018. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

Ms Indranee added: "The question is what model of borrowing you have, and the right mix."

During her visit to Fei Yue, Ms Indranee observed activities to keep seniors active and plugged in to the community.

From April, the Ministry of Social and Family Development will hand over most social support services for seniors to the Health Ministry.

This is because health and social needs are so closely linked, Ms Indranee said, adding that it should lead to better coordination on the ground.

Said Ms Tan Su San, who is assistant director of Fei Yue Community Services: "We will be seeing a much more beneficiary-centric service with more coordination and more integration."

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