Speech by Mr. Louis Ng Kok Kwang, MP for Nee Soon GRC at the Second Reading of the Bretton Woods Agreement (Amendment) Bill [Bill No. 18/2016]
Madam Speaker, I stand in full support of this Bill, a Bill that is about the spirit of sharing and giving.
Amendments to help lower-income countries
The proposed Bretton Woods Agreement Act amendments will provide the Monetary Authority of Singapore or MAS with additional powers to make grants, in order to enable MAS to participate in the International Monetary Fund or IMF’s initiative to strengthen the Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust resources.
These amendments will result in more financial assistance for low-income member countries.
For a start, Singapore will be able to contribute our share of the IMF’s gold sales profit, which will amount to a grant of US$20 million to the Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust.
Singapore as a global citizen amid global economic risks
This proposal for the contribution of the above sales profit is supported by 80% of IMF members and this is a timely move for Singapore to support this as well, in direct response to repeated calls by the IMF for the world to act together, urgently.
In April this year, IMF chief Christine Lagarde warned that time was running out to revive the global economy. A few months before that, a report to G20 leaders called for strong policy responses at the national and multilateral levels to propel the global economy to a more prosperous path.
It doesn’t take an economist to realise that we are entering into a changing economic climate. The global economy is facing latent fissures in the form of falling oil prices and China’s slowdown.
Amid these economic threats, global powers are also struggling to cope with the refugee crisis, religious extremism and political unrest.
We know that the IMF – as the global crisis lender – is not optimistic. After careful observations of global trends, they have cut their global growth forecast for the fourth time this year.
It is in Singapore’s interest
The amendments allowing for increased contributions to the IMF will allow it to fight fires in the global economy. Crisis prevention is an international effort, and Singapore must act, must contribute and must help.
A strong Singaporean response in a time like this can only signal our resolve to maintain global stability, placing Singapore at the forefront and as a leader.
This act of global goodwill will also bode us well. For a trade-reliant country like ours, a stable and healthy global economy will only serve our interests.
By contributing to IMF’s war chest and bolstering emergency funds for weaker economies, we are building a firewall for ourselves.
In these times of uncertainty, we must do all we can to ensure the global economic climate remains favourable to Singapore.
Important lessons for our young
But this isn’t just about Singapore’s interest, about Singapore’s economy and not just about the dollars and cents.
It is also about showing that despite being a tiny red dot, we can be a shining example of a small country with a big impact, a small country of responsible global citizens, we can be a shining red dot.
For me, this really is about sharing and giving, the lessons we teach our children in schools and the lessons I’m currently teaching my daughter.
When she is playing with other children and they want to play with the toy she is playing with, I tell her to share. Let others also have a chance to play.
I’m teaching her to give and donate. I started passing her coins to put into donation tins in shops and try to explain to her why she is putting coins in there.
I’m afraid for this, it has been a failed experiment so far. I doubt she understands why but she does enjoy putting the coins in the tins and she now insists on putting coins in every donation tin we walk past.
She has learnt to say no but I’m afraid I’ve not learnt to say no to her especially now when she has now learnt the words “Daddy please”.
But I’m sure she will eventually understand why she is putting coins in tins.
Perhaps the best way to teach is to show by example. As parents, we need to show that we share and we give. As a government, we need to lead by example and show that we not just teach sharing and giving in our schools but we practice what we preach.
Madam Speaker, I applaud the government for its initiative to strengthen our spirit of sharing and giving at an international level and I stand in full support of this Bill.