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NSP: Need for GIC Board to be more transparent



Need for GIC Board to be more transparent
Thu, Mar 05, 2009

The National Solidarity Party (NSP) calls on the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (GIC) to be more transparent with its global investment projects.

During the recent Parliament sessions, it was revealed that the Country’s other national investment entity, Temasek Holdings, had lost some 31% of its investment value recently. Its failures in a number of ventures notably in China, USA, Thailand, Indonesia, and Australia have been in the news over the past several years. Although Temasek was able to reap from its substantial ownership of various local oligopolies, its fortune with international ventures was much to be desired, despite the presence of its highly vaunted board of directors.

GIC’s investments have also been similarly affected. But hitherto, there has been no official acknowledgement on this issue. The public is thus left to speculate that its losses could have been substantially higher.

GIC had invested US$6.88 Billion with the Citigroup in mid-January 2008. The bank was then mired in the “sub-prime crisis”, and its shares had tumbled by one third to about US$29 each. Recently, the Straits Times (1 March 2009) reported that by end-February 2009, the market value of Citigroup’s shares had further plummeted to a mere US$1.50 each, a tremendous fall of almost 95%. Well-known financial analysts, Goldman Sachs, predicted that the Citigroup will continue to incur huge losses. Thus, GIC’s original stake of US$6.88 Billion may be practically wiped out.

GIC dealings and operations have to-date been kept a “national secret.” However, the sheer volume of its losses can no more justify its confidentiality. Losses of such magnitude have exposed many a rogue trader, in recent years. The Authorities cannot therefore continue to hide under the cloak of officialdom, and deny the People of such vital information, particularly so when our national reserves have shrunk so short.

The GIC Board could follow Temasek’s footsteps, to revitalize itself. It could conduct a thorough organizational overhaul, and adopt a paradigm shift in its investment strategy. Its CEO could also emulate that of the Citigroup CEO, and accept a nominal $1 per annum salary with no bonus at all. These would help to demonstrate its accountability to the concerned public, and perhaps even regain its diminishing public trust.

Unless the Government exercises positive steps promptly to show its transparency and accountability, public speculations can only worsen to the eventual detriment of the Nation, especially when we are still struggling to withstand the current financial tsunami. The NSP therefore hopes that the Government would truly uphold its often-proclaimed integrity of being an honest and efficient establishment.

For & on behalf of

Ken Sun
Secretary General

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