This article was first published on Dollars and Sense
The annual National Day Parade (NDP) is the biggest event on Singapore’s calendar. Encompassing more than just a half-day event on August 9, the NDP experience for Singaporeans spans multiple weekends, with previews and National Education shows commencing as early as July.
On average, some 10,000 personnel from the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) and Home Team are involved in each NDP, with thousands more volunteers from the private sector, schools and other organizations. Together with the hundreds of thousands of spectators attending all of the NDP show sessions and watching on TV (and more recently, online), NDP is truly a unique, shared Singaporean experience.
Holding an event of such a scale surely isn’t cheap, though. But exactly how expensive NDP is each year isn’t something that the government seems keen to disclose.
Thanks to questions raised in parliament, Singaporeans now have a glimpse of how much NDP costs you, the taxpayer. Based on a written reply by Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen and another reply, this is what we know:
There are many ways to interpret this information.
For one, you could say that the cost of NDP has gone up more than 700 percent since 2002.
Alternatively, you could say that it cost more to hold NDP 2016 and 2015 than it did to hold NDPs from 2008 to 2011 or from 2002 to 2009.
But before you instinctively begin to write in with angry comments, remember this: the cost to hold NDP over 12 years (including the “expensive” SG50 NDP of 2015) is still cheaper than what Singapore spent to hold the Youth Olympic Games (a whopping $387 million).
With that in mind, it’s still hard to dispute that NDP gives tremendous value to Singapore. In addition to providing a shared Singaporean experience, it’s also a great unitive opportunity for the SAF, Home Team and dozens of other government agencies to plan and execute a complex operation together — considering the closure of multiple roads, coordination of land, sea and air units, as well as the provision of food and water to thousands of working personnel and young students. In a sense, each NDP is also a validation of Singapore’s ability to get things done well and, more importantly, on time.
So, regardless of how you catch the NDP festivities on August 9 — on site at the floating platform or other sites around the Marina Bay Area, or on television — you may take comfort in knowing that it is money arguably well spent. Besides, when else will you get the chance to see your money literally blowing up in the air in the form of fireworks?
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