In low key move, Singapore’s central bank adds 26 tonnes to it’s gold reserves

It has just come to light that Singapore’s central bank, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), added 26.35 tonnes of gold to its official monetary gold reserves over a 2 month period between May and June this year, in the process boosting its strategic gold holdings by 20% to a claimed 153.76 tonnes.

This addition to the monetary gold holdings of the Monetary Authority of Singapore was first pointed out by the World Gold Council’s Krishan Gopaul in a 25 November tweet, following an update to Singapore’s gold holdings appearing in the IMF’s International Financial Statistics (IFS) database, a source which World Gold Council uses to keep track of central bank and sovereign gold holdings.


May and June: 26.35 tonnes added

While it’s unclear why changes to Singapore’s monetary gold holdings from May and June only made it on to the IFS database in recent days, looking more closely, the Monetary Authority of Singapore did ‘reflect’ the May and June gold purchases at the end of July and August, respectively, via updates to the MAS’ monthly “International Reserves and Foreign Currency Liquidity” report, but did not announce or mention the additions specifically.

Before looking at how this substantial gold purchase by Singapore went unnoticed, here are the raw numbers from the MAS site itself. Up until the end of April 2021, Singapore’s central bank (MAS) had been reporting total gold holdings of 4,096,439 fine troy ounces, or 127.42 tonnes, a figure which had not changed since at least 2002 (which is as far back as World Gold Council records go).

During May 2021, MAS reports that it added 527,201 ozs (16.4 tonnes) of gold, taking it’s gold holdings as of end of May to 4,623,640 ozs (143.81 tonnes).

During June 2021, MAS reports that it added a further 319,801 ozs (9.95 tonnes) of gold, which increased MAS’ gold holdings as of end of June to 4,943,441 ozs (153.76 tonnes).

This means that over the two months May and June 2021 inclusive, MAS purchased 847,002 fine troy ounces of gold (26.35 tonnes), and in doing so increased it’s gold holdings by 20.67%, and at the same time rising from 30th to 28th place in the world gold holding rankings.\


Quietly and Discreetly

Each month, the World Gold Council (WGC) updates it’s World Official Gold Holdings spreadsheet (xls) in which it ranks sovereign gold holders largest to smallest based on how many tonnes of monetary gold each country holds. Looking at the latest version of this report (November), it lists Singapore in 30th position with 127.4 tonnes ‘as of August 2021’, and this spreadsheet has not yet been updated (at time of writing) to reflect the 26 tonnes of gold purchased by Singapore in May and June.

The WGC ranking methodology states that: This table was updated in November 2021 and reports data available at that time. Data are taken from the International Monetary Fund’s International Financial Statistics (IFS), November 2021 edition, and other sources where applicable. IFS data are two months in arrears, so holdings are as of September 2021 for most countries, August 2021 or earlier for late reporters.

IMF IFS data will only get updated if and when an individual country informs the IMF of a change to that country’s gold holdings. It appears then that

the World Gold Council’s data for Singapore’s gold holdings is based exclusively on the IMF IFS data, and that this IFS data has for some reason only in recent days been updated to reflect Singapore’s gold purchases, which means that for some reason Singapore has only very recently informed the IMF of it’s May-June gold buying.

For verification, I ran a data query in the IMF IFS database for search criteria Singapore, for each month of 2021, with the data indicator of “International Reserves and Liquidity, Reserves, Official Reserve Assets, Gold (Including Gold Deposits and, If Appropriate, Gold Swapped), Volume in Millions of Fine Troy Ounces, Fine Troy Ounces”.

This data query output the following:

IMF IFS data extract showing Singapore’s gold holdings from January – August 2021

From the IFS data, you can see that Singapore’s (MAS) gold holdings remained unchanged at 4.1 million ozs until the end of April 2021, then increased to 4.62 mn ozs at the end of May, and then increased again to 4.94 mn ozs at the end of June, after which MAS gold reserves remained unchanged.

MAS Monthly International Reserves report

However, knowing now that MAS purchased gold during May and June, I went back and checked on the actual MAS monthly ‘International Reserves and Foreign Currency Liquidity’ reports on the MA website.

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