The Sports Hub fiasco was not debated in the July Parliament sitting because Minister Edwin Tong was down with Covid. We hope he has recovered and ready to reply to the questions in the 1st August sitting.
The news of the government doling out $900 million to support SPH Media Trust over the next 5 years had hardly died down, when another fiasco surfaced to test the patience and stir the ire of the Singaporean taxpayer. The new hole to fill this time is the Sports Hub.
The government now has to pay a termination fee to SHPL, the private consortium which owns and manages the Sports Hub. While the compensation has not been finalised, the Straits Times reported on 11 June that, “The cost of terminating the partnership arrangement, together with ongoing operating costs, would be comparable to the future $2.32 billion that SportSG (the government) would be paying if it had continued with the (current) arrangement till 2035.”
The government needs to explain and justify the compensation to SHPL for the failed public-private partnership. We will hold the government accountable because this is another big drain of taxpayer’s money.
Till today, the government has not been able to justify why shareholders of Singapore Press Holdings, the former parent of SPH Media, was allowed to walk away with $4 billion of assets while leaving the $900 million bill to support the loss-making media business to the taxpayers.
The SPH Media Trust and Sports Hub are not the only fiscal fiascos. Singaporeans will remember the over-spending of $280 million for the Youth Olympics in 2010. Besides these high profile debacles, we also question recurrent expenditures like the hundreds of millions spent on the education and training of foreign students and foreign PMETs. Even the $700 million SkillsFuture expenditure on the training of locals every year should be reviewed.
I have pointed out during the Budget 2022 debate that the government should cut expenditure first before raising GST. The Sports Hub and SPH Media Trust together may create a hole of $3 billion which is about the same as the annual revenue which will be collected by the 2% GST hike.
The government is sitting on $1.9 trillion of reserves and earning fiscal revenue of about $130 billion per annum, when we include taxes, land sales and net investment returns of the reserves. All these are our money and we need to guard it by demanding more transparency and accountability.
Singaporeans deserve better.
For Country For People.