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How Much Does The National Day Parade Cost The Singapore Taxpayer?

Money well-spent?

This article was first published on 3 August 2017, and updated with NDP 2020’s expected costs.

The annual National Day Parade (NDP) is the biggest event in Singapore’s calendar. Encompassing more than just a half-day event on 9 August , the NDP experience for Singaporeans spans multiple weekends, with preview and National Education shows commencing as early as a month before August.

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 organisations. Together with the hundreds of thousands of spectators attending all of the NDP show sessions and watching on TV (and more recently, online), the NDP is truly a unique, shared Singaporean experience.

Holding an event of such a scale surely isn’t cheap. But exactly how expensive the National Day Parade is each year isn’t something that the government seems keen to disclose.

Thanks to questions raised in parliament, Singaporeans 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.

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Year Venue Approximate Cost
NDP 2016 National Stadium @ Sports Hub $39.4 million
NDP 2015 Padang $40.5 million
NDP 2011 Marina Bay Floating Platform $17.17 million
NDP 2010 Padang $20.6 million
NDP 2009 Marina Bay Floating Platform $15.4 million
NDP 2008 Marina Bay Floating Platform $14.2 million
NDP 2007 Marina Bay Floating Platform $13.75 million
NDP 2006 National Stadium $7 million
NDP 2005 Padang $10.3 million
NDP 2004 National Stadium $5.43 million
NDP 2003 National Stadium $6.25 million
NDP 2002 National Stadium $5.56 million

There are many ways to interpret this information.

For one, you could say that the cost of NDP has gone up more than 700% since 2002.

Or you could say that it cost more to hold NDP 2016 and 2015 alone, than it did to hold NDP from 2008 to 2011 or NDP from 2002 to 2009.

But before you instinctively begin to write angry comments, remember this: the cost to hold NDP over 12 years (including the “expensive” SG50 NDP of 2015) added up is still cheaper than what Singapore spent to hold one Youth Olympics Games ($387 million).

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, NDP 2020 will be held in a unique manner, with decentralised mobile column drive-pasts, air component displays, and an indoor show without the usual tens of thousands of Singaporeans in attendance. As a result, NDP 2020 is expected to cost just a third of what it usually costs.

Tangible And Intangible Benefits Of National Day Parades

In addition to providing a shared Singapore experience as mentioned above, it is also a great opportunity for the SAF, Home Team and dozens of other government agencies to plan and execute a complex operation together. There is the closure of roads, coordination of land, sea and air units, 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, or through photos published on various media platforms, may you take comfort in knowing that it is money well spent!

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