Public Enterprises

Singapore Table of Contents

Apart from the statutory boards, which met general development and infrastructure goals, the government owned or held equity in many businesses that operated in the private sector. The government asserted that such businesses received no special subsidies and would be liquidated if they proved unprofitable. The wholly government-owned Temasek Holdings (Private) Limited was the country's largest corporation. Operated as an investment and holding corporation, its offices were in the Ministry of Finance, which provided the corporation with free accounting and secretarial services. Some government enterprises included former government departments, such as the Government Printing Office, which in 1973 became the Singapore National Printers Limited and offered its services to the private sector at market rates. Most government enterprises either provided key and potentially monopolistic services, such as Singapore International Airline or Neptune Orient Line, an ocean shipping firm, or they met strategic and defense needs. The Ministry of Defence wholly owned or had large equity shares in a range of companies engaged in weapons production, electronics, computer software, and even food production. In some cases the government banks, holding companies, or corporations were partners or had shares in local operations of multinational corporations. In such cases, the goal was both to attract the corporations to Singapore by offering investment funds and the promise of cooperation from government departments and to ensure that the corporations transferred proprietary technology and training to Singapore. The strategic nature of much government enterprise was acknowledged by the January 20, 1984, passage of the Statutory Bodies and Government Companies (Protection of Secrecy) Act. The law barred the unauthorized disclosure of confidential information by anyone associated with a statutory board or government enterprise and was considered necessary because the Official Secrets Act did not cover those bodies.

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Source: U.S. Library of Congress