Splurging on National Day Parades

13 Sep

Gerald Giam asked a good question. How much was spent in the past national day parades.


Could the money have been better spent, yes, no, maybe. The elusive answer depends on whether Singapore can afford to spend the money and what was the opportunity cost. For example, how much should be spent on charity, helping fellow needy Singaporeans. So if $20.6 million was spent in 2010, money literally burnt away on fireworks and gaudy displays, how much of that should have been spent on approved charities or welfare programmes, or subsidies in conservancy fees. The list goes on and on.


I’m not saying that money spent on national day parades are a total waste of money, although it is cool and populist to do so. Really, it depends on how much was spent and on what. One misleading comment was by this blogger Singapore Notes who writes good stuff most of the time, but this time slipped slightly. All of us have our bad days I know.

Amidst the doldrums of worldwide financial meltdown in 2008, $14 million was still splurged (record high in that year), not a single cent was trimmed to entertain the VVIPs who were hosted to exclusive cocktail parties while the common folk make their way home in the over crowded trains and buses.

Firstly, the financial crisis hit the news in September with AIG’s troubles among those at the forefront. So money was squandered away before the 2008 global recession exploded. Secondly, it depends on what was spent regardless of recession or not. Spending on national day parades means money pumped by the govt into the economy – into production, transport, materials, advertisement and the entire supply chain. SMEs benefit. Big evil corporations benefit. National day parades are capital injections into local businesses and the economy is stimulated temporarily. Spending more money on national day parades especially during recessions are even more important. When the private sector holds back in such dark times, contracting the fragile economy even more, it is up to public sector spending to pump back confidence into the economy.


The real probes into national day parades and spending is whether the deals were transparent and without corruption. This is a point that Singapore Notes was nonetheless sharp to point out.

Without a detailed accounting, we are unable to tell if the procurement for top dollar items were approved along NParks procedures and similar standard operating guidelines.

Which companies won the tenders for supplying goods and services to the big birthday party that is getting boring year after year? The GLCs would usually win the tenders,  like SFI for providing food to “volunteers” and those conscripted to help out in the parades. I did NS and ICT enough to know that if it is SAF and food, it is SFI. However, these GLCs outsourced and subcontracted out the goods and services anyway, spreading the money around. So with the splurging or squandering of taxpayers money on national day celebrations worth it or not, is an argue until cows come home mental masturbation deadend.  The more pertinent concern is if the money was spent in a fair and transparent manner, and if it stimulated local businesses besides the GLCs.

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