ONE of the lessons to be learnt from the financial meltdown is that it arose, in large part, because banks, funds and other institutions that take deposits and sell products to consumers were allowed to move a lot of their highly risky or questionable deals off their balance sheets and thus hide from inquiring eyes and minds.
Greater information flow and transparency could have resulted in alarm bells going off earlier and louder.
Although Singapore's banks and financial institutions are nowhere as profligate as their American and European counterparts, the argument for more, not less, public scrutiny still applies. In this regard, the practice of allowing banks to publish only a summarised version of their balance sheets in daily newspapers should be reversed. Publication of complete balance sheets, as well as information on new financial products, will enhance corporate transparency, instil higher discipline in compliance and result in greater financial prudence.
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