SINGAPORE PAYMENTS SURPLUS DOUBLES AS GROWTH DECLINES

SINGAPORE PAYMENTS SURPLUS DOUBLES AS GROWTH DECLINES

Singapore's current account surplus doubled to over US$4 billion, and its economy grew by 6.7 percent in 1991, the Singapore government said in its annual state of the economy report.

The republic said it chalked up its highest ever current account surplus of US$4.5 billion (S$7.3 billion), up from S$3.9 billion in 1990.A nation's current account takes into account the balance of all services, interest, grants and exports, re-exports and imports of goods.

The hefty Singapore increase was attributed to a lower merchandise trade deficit, primarily from lower oil prices and increased re-exports. Another factor was a large surplus for services including investment receipts.

Singapore's saving rate was officially pegged at 47 percent of gross national product. This is fed in part by a forced saving scheme called the Central Provident Fund under which employers and employees contribute out of the payroll.

This helped boost Singapore's official foreign reserves to S$56 billion

from S$48.5 billion a year earlier.

In other parts of the annual report, Singapore said the economy grew by 6.7 percent last year down from the 8.3 percent reported a year earlier. Trade in 1991 grew by 5.4 percent compared with 11.4 percent a year earlier, inflation remained constant at 3.4 percent, while productivity grew by 1.5 percent compared with 3.5 percent in 1990.

The government said prospects for economic growth remain uncertain this year. The country's 6.7 percent economic growth rate is its lowest since 1986 when it was struggling to pull out of a recession.

The drop was attributed in large part to a decline in domestic demand - to 4.9 percent in 1991 from 14 percent in 1990 - due to slower growth of private capital investment. External demand, meanwhile, slowed only slightly to 10 percent from 12 percent a year earlier, largely due to the Persian Gulf war and weaker demand in Europe and North America.

In a sectoral growth rate comparison for 1991 and 1990, expressed in constant 1985 dollars, transport and communication grew by 8 percent compared with 8.8 percent. Commerce grew by 6.4 percent compared with 8.2 percent, manufacturing by 5.3 percent compared with 9.5 percent, and business services by 7.6 percent compared with 7.9 percent.