Sunday, September 04, 2011

Wikileaks' Stunning Revelations about Singapore's Corporate Elite

Something that particularly piqued my interest today was the profound Wikileaks revelations about the Island Power saga, and Singapore's corporate sector in general.

Island Power is an 800MW independent power producer (IPP) gas-fired power plant in Singapore that recently (mid 2011) achieved financial close and commencement of construction. It competes with the three large Gencos, Senoko Power, PowerSeraya and Tuas Power that were formerly owned by Temasek Holdings and that were privatised to foreign investors in 2007-2008. Island Power also competes with two GLCs in the Singapore power sector, namely Keppel Merlimau Cogen (Keppel Corp) and Sembcogen (Sembcorp Utilities).

The development of Island Power has taken a very long time, and goes as far back as 2000, when the original sponsor of the project, Intergen, got a license from the Energy Market Authority (EMA) and started the process to develop the power plant in Singapore. However, for more than 10 years, Island Power was beset with delays, ostensibly regarding their ability to procure access to a natural gas pipeline supply from Indonesia and other reasons. Wikileaks, however, has revealed more or less everything surrounding the delay (and subsequent abandonment) of Island Power in the hands of Intergen:
"For about six years Singapore Temasek and its subsidiaries have deliberately and successfully blocked efforts by Intergen and local subsidiary Island Power to access an offshore gas pipeline between Indonesia and Singapore.  While the GOS was taking public steps to encourage competition and liberalize its gas market, Temasek was working hard to block potential competitors (ref D), claimed Michael Reading (protect), Managing Director of Island Power.  Reading said that Temasek at various points threatened personal defamation lawsuits, claimed it "controlled the government," and pledged to "frustrate" Island's efforts to operate in Singapore."

Debt Watch - Singapore

Following in the footsteps of the debt master Professor Steve Keen, I am starting an amateur analysis of Singapore's debt levels and debt trends.

The first chart for analysis is a plot of Singapore's consumer housing debt - as extended by banks (data from MAS) vs Singapore's GDP (singstat). I am able to get only four data points from singstat for GDP (if anybody knows how i can get a more detailed time series pls let me know), nevertheless a plot of housing debt vs. GDP shows a clear trend:

There is a major omission from this chart, and that is the debt that is extended by HDB to purchasers of HDB flats. MAS only releases data of loans made by banks, and not loans made by HDB. So we have to use educated guessing estimate the HDB debt. (if anybody knows how i can get my hands on this data, please let me know. thanks)