18 Feb 2006

S'pore to boost defence spending to about $10 billion

Weekend • February 18, 2006

Singapore will increase its defence expenditure by 8.5 per cent this year as the nation boosts its security to protect from terrorist attacks.

The Government will spend $10.05 billion, or 32.8 per cent of total expenditure, on defence in the year starting April 1, the Ministry of Finance said in a Budget report on Friday.

Singapore, which has said terrorism is the gravest threat to the security of its economy, spent $9.3 billion on defence last year.

Singapore has been modernising its defence forces amid the global threat of terrorism. On Dec 12, the Ministry of Defence signed an agreement with Boeing Company, the second-largest US military contractor, to deliver 12 F-15 fighter planes in the next three to four years. The agreement also includes an option for Singapore to buy another eight aircraft at a future date.

In July, former Deputy Prime Minister Tony Tan said Singapore was an "iconic target'" for terrorists and was "very high" on a list of potential targets. The island sits alongside shipping lanes that carry half of the world's oil and a third of global trade.

Mock terrorist attacks were conducted on the public transport system on Jan 8, its biggest civil emergency exercise ever, to test preparedness after bombs ripped through London's subway last year and Madrid trains in 2004. On Monday, the Government said such events will become a regular part of city life in order to increase readiness.

Singapore arrested suspected terrorists with ties to Jemaah Islamiyah, after the 911 attacks in the United States. — Bloomberg

Some questions that pop into my mind while reading the two articles I posted about our Budget: a) Do we really need to spend so much on defence? Is it justified and is 32.8 % of the budget a large percentage (as compared to other countries)? b) Are the new budget handouts such as the 'Progress Package', 'workfare system' and the proposed negative income tax systems really applicable/effective in Singapore? Interestingly, in the previous article that I posted, it mentioned that 45 percent of the population fall into the category of 'low wage worker' who will benefit from the handouts.

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