(Pt 1 here)
During the early years after independence, PAP relied mostly on our CPF savings to set up GLCs as well as fund infrastructure construction.**
In 1967, CPF members loaned the PAP government 85% of the funds it badly needed. From 1967 till 1996, annually, more than 72% of all government loans came from CPF members.
Instead of paying CPF members rates of return which commensurate with high economic growth and inflation, CPF members were paid laughably low rates of return.
The PAP conveniently forgot that without CPF retirement savings – a cheap source of funding – GLCs would not have succeeded and some might have gone pock kai. After GLCs – mostly pow chiak businesses – were able to stand on their own, ie did not require CPF funding anymore, they were transferred to Temasek. CPF subsequently became a cheap source of funds for GIC.
Examples of ‘pow chiak’ businesses include supermarket monopoly NTUC unFairprice, POSB (before lelong sale to DBS without even consulting reserves jaga President Ong Teng Cheong), PSA, CapitaLand, SingTel, Changi Airport Group, Singapore Power, SMRT, SBS Transit, etc.
Just how pow chiak were these GLCs?
PSA has been earning very high profit margins for decades. Recent data in the table below.
In 2013 and 2015, dividends from PSA alone amounted to 10% of total interest paid to CPF members. MAS (see statistical annexes)
Rain or shine, SP will continue to supply electricity and gas to over a million customers in Singapore. As can be seen from its high margins, although not as high as PSA’s, isn’t this also another pow chiak business?
Before Singtel was listed in 1993, the PAP had already spent billions in tax dollars on telecommunication infrastructure.
During the first few years after listing, Singtel was trading at an average price of $3 per share, implying a market value of at least $45 billion. link
(If not for its purchase of Australia’s Optus in 2001 at an overvalued price of US$8.5 billion, Singtel would have earned even higher returns.)
Singtel has been able to earn high returns because there has never been free market competition. This is because Temasek is also a major shareholder of the other 2 telcos, Starhub (via STT 55%) and M1 (via Keppel + SPH 32% ). All 3 telcos are pow chiak certified.
Domestic TLCs benefited tremendously from the use of our CPF because they were mostly pow chiak businesses. According to Temasek, it earned a 15% rate of return since 1974 and 13% since 1987.
But why have CPF members been paid only a fraction of Temasek’s returns when the loan of our CPF had a direct contribution to its profitability? Are Temasek’s figures for real?
If they are, doesn’t it imply that CPF members have been shortchanged by PAP?
PAP has a funny definition of wealth sharing. When Singtel was listed in 1993, the government allocated only 11% of Singtel shares, ie wealth sharing ratio = 1 for Singaporeans, 9 for Temasek.
In reality, the ratio was much lower because we had to subscribe to Singtel shares at a discounted price. 😦