SINGAPORE: The first Singapore Savings Bond is expected to be issued in the second half of 2015, and the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) on Monday (May 11) released more information on how investors can buy and redeem them.
The Savings Bonds are a new type of Singapore Government Securities designed to offer individuals a "long-term, flexible savings option with safe returns", MAS said in a news release.
The launch of the bonds programme will be announced at least one month before applications for the first issuance open, MAS stated. New bonds will be issued every month for at least the next five years, added Senior Minister of State for Finance Josephine Teo in Parliament on Monday.
Those interested in applying for the bonds will need to have a bank account with participating banks, currently DBS, POSB, OCBC or UOB. Prospective investors will also need to have an individual Central Depository (CDP) Securities account with direct crediting service, allowing payments to be made directly to a bank account.
Individuals who wish to buy the bonds must be at least 18 years old, and have the necessary bank and CDP accounts before the bonds are launched, said MAS.
Investors will be able to apply for and redeem the Savings Bonds through DBS, POSB, OCBC or UOB ATMs, or through DBS/POSB internet banking channels. Non-refundable transaction fees will be charged by the banks for each application and redemption request.
APPLICATION, REDEMPTION PERIODS
A new Savings Bond will be issued monthly, and applications will open on the first business day of each month, and close four business days before the end of the month. Requests to redeem existing bonds can be made during the same period, added MAS.
Requests to buy or redeem the bonds will be processed three business days before the end of the month. The Savings Bonds will be issued on the first business day of the next month, and the redemption proceeds will be processed by the second business day.
The investors will be notified by mail if their application requests are successful, and when the redemption requests are processed.
ALLOCATION OF BONDS
MAS will announce the issuance size of each Savings Bond issue before application opens. If the bonds are oversubscribed for the month, MAS will allocate the bonds to all applicants in increasing multiples of S$500, until the individual gets the full amount applied for, or when all available bonds have been allocated, whichever comes first.
“This means that smaller applications will have a higher chance of receiving full allotment, and individuals with larger applications may not get the full amount they applied for,” explained Mrs Teo.
Individuals will only be able to buy the bonds using cash, and application and redemption requests must be made in multiples of S$500.
Investors will be able to apply for each Savings Bonds issue with amounts ranging from S$500 to S$50,000, and they can hold up to S$100,000 of Savings Bonds at any point in time. The Government will review the caps if there is a need for it, after the programme is implemented, said Mrs Teo.
For 2015, the Government could issue between S$2 billion to S$4 billion of Savings Bonds, added Mrs Teo.
The money raised from issuing the Savings Bonds cannot be spent by the Government and will be invested, said MAS.
'STEP-UP' INTEREST RATES
The Singapore Savings Bonds will pay investors “step-up” interest rates – which mean each year’s interest payment will be larger than the one before.
“In the first year, the total interest payments results in an annual interest equivalent to that of conventional one-year Singapore Government Security (SGS),” explained Mrs Teo. “And if a bond-holder redeems the bond after five years, the average earned interest per year will match the return of a five-year SGS issued at the point of purchase.”
“By the end of the tenth year, the total interest payments results in an average annual interest equivalent to that of a conventional 10-year SGS issued at the point of purchase,” she added.
MAS will announce the interest payment schedule and the returns over different holding periods, when applications open for each Savings Bonds issue. It has published a list of frequently asked questions on Singapore Savings Bonds on its website.