Ministry of Finance Committee of Supply 2019 – Cuts by WP MPs and NCMPs

(Delivered on 28 Feb 2019)

GIC Data – Pritam Singh

Sir, probably the largest contributor to the NIR component of the NIRC, the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation’s mission is to preserve and enhance the long-term international purchasing power of the country’s reserves. The size of the fund GIC manages has been estimated by some at well over hundreds of billion of dollars. For the year ended 31 March 2018, GIC achieved a 20-year annualised rate of return of 3.4% above global inflation. The year before that the rate of return was 3.7% and for the year ended 31 March 2016, it was 4.0%. This constitutes 3 consecutive years of decline from the 4.7% at the end of 31 March 2015. GIC latest report states that the reason for this decline is that the high returns from the beginning of the tech-bubble window have dropped out of the rolling 20-year return window while the post-tech bubble declines have remained. GIC foresees this decline in the rolling 20-year annualised rate of return to continue for a few years although the same report states that in most recent years, the returns have been good.

In previous replies on fund performance, office holders have stated that the Government’s view is that GIC and Temasek have performed creditably in challenging market conditions. How does the Government ascertain this beyond the inputs of the individuals who are on the boards of these funds? How does the public scrutinise fund performance in comparison to other fund managers with not too dissimilar or long-term mandates? What does the GIC mean when it states the returns from recent years have been good, and what is stopping the fund from reporting its yearly performance so as to meaningfully allow the public to track its performance closely such as as we see with Temasek today?

Caregiver Levy Relief – Daniel Goh

Chairman, the Foreign Maid Levy Relief is currently given to married, separated, divorced and widowed women with school going children to claim relief for foreign domestic worker levy paid for domestic workers they or their husband employed. Singles and married men are not eligible, as are separated, divorced or widowed women with no children to claim child reliefs. This is severely limiting.

The objective is to encourage women to stay in the workforce. I urge MOF to expand the scope of the levy relief generously to all Singaporeans who paid the foreign maid levy for domestic workers taking care of children, elderly parents or people with disabilities. This will then encourage all caregiving Singaporeans to stay in the workforce, regardless of gender and marital status.

Furthermore, the Government has announced it would expand the scope of the Foreign Domestic Worker Grant and replace it with the Home Caregiving Grant in recognition of the sacrifices made by caregivers and to support their care work. A universal Caregiver Levy Relief will be better aligned with this objective.