Just how much is $100 billion?

March 12, 2009
Singapore Democrats

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Analysts estimate losses incurred by the GIC and Temasek in recent investments at about $100 billion – a conservative estimate to be sure. Temasek itself admitted to blowing $58 billion between March and November last year. The GIC is thought to have lost at least that much. The problem is that ordinary folk find it hard to wrap their heads around such an enormous figure.

Just how much is $100 billion?

$100 billion can comfortably provide unemployment benefits for the retrenched during this crucial period.

Let’s take the worse-case scenario that unemployment hits 300,000. Let’s also imagine that the state provides an average of $1,000 a month for 12 months to help these people tide over the abrupt loss in income.

This works out to about $3.6 billion a year. Even if we provide the benefits for three years until the economy safely recovers, we would have spent only a little more than $10 billion – one-tenth of what GIC and Temasek lost last year!

$100 billion can buy 400,000 four-room flats (based on $250,000 per flat), an amount that could buy all the flats in Toa Payoh, Ang Mo Kio, Bedok, and Jurong with change to spare. At the very least, it can provide a home for half of all Singaporeans (yes, even at the HDB’s inflated prices).

$100 billion can feed and house the poorest of our poor for a decade and beyond, and effectively wipe out poverty as we know it.

$100 billion will amply cover all the CPF savings the Government owes to retirees that are presently withheld under one scheme or another.

Based on the number of approximately 250,000 Singaporeans over the age of 65 (8.5 percent of the population), and assuming (on the high side) that each retiree has $100,000 in his/her account, the state, if it returned all the CPF savings to all retirees, pays out only $25 billion.

$100 billion, if returned instead of squandered by Mr Lee Kuan Yew and his daughter-in-law, would give each and every Singaporean more than $30,000 to live on. In an average household of four, this works out to a useful $120,000.

As it is, we have flushed $100 billion down the toilet. And still, no one is held accountable. Worse, Singaporeans are made to foot the bill while those who lost our money continue to live in opulence.