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Establishment of the Post Office Savings Bank 1st Jan 1877

The Post Office Savings Bank (POSB) was established by the British colonial government on 1 January 1877 to provide banking facilities for lower-income groups. Set up as part of the Post Office Service Department, it was the first of several savings banks established in the Straits Settlements, which comprised Singapore, Penang and Malacca.[1] The bank’s operations came under the jurisdiction of the Postmaster-General, while overall policy-making was in the hands of a group of trustees appointed by the Governor of the Straits Settlements.[2] Between 1877 and 1940, POSB enjoyed steady growth. The number of accounts grew from 211 in 1877 to 57,000 in 1940, while total deposits increased from 19,862 to 14.3 million Straits dollars.[3]

On 1 January 1949, following the enactment of the Savings Bank Ordinance, 1948, Singapore’s POSB was separated from other post office savings banks in Malaya.[4] As part of the reorganisation, POSB’s assets and liabilities were divided between Singapore and the Federated Malay States. However, overall operations of the Singapore POSB remained under the jurisdiction of the Postmaster-General of Malaya. Management and control of POSB was subsequently transferred to the Postmaster-General of Singapore in 1966, a year after the island became independent.[5]

When Singapore stepped up its industrialisation programme after 1965, then Minister for Finance Goh Keng Swee identified domestic savings as one of the ways to promote the growth of industries. Such savings could provide the government with a non-inflationary source of funds for national development.[6] To facilitate the bank in carrying out this new role, the Post Office Savings Bank Bill was introduced in parliament on 30 July 1971 to turn the Post Office Savings Bank into a statutory corporation.[7]

1. The postmaster-general’s report for 1877. (1878, June 8). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Consulton Research Bureau. (1977). The first hundred years of the Post Office Savings Bank of Singapore (pp. 10–11). Singapore: Post Office Savings Bank. Call no.: RSING 332.22095957 CON.
2. Consulton Research Bureau, 1977, p.11.
3. Consulton Research Bureau, 1977, pp. 11-12.
4. Singapore. Supplement to the Laws of the Colony of Singapore (1949). Post Office Savings Bank Ordinance, 1948 (Ord. 38 of 1948) (pp. 258–266). Singapore: [s.n.]. Call no.: RCLOS 348.5957 SSLCS-[HWE].
5. Annual report of the Singapore Post Office Savings Bank, 1966 (p. 1). (1968). Singapore: Govt. Printer. Call no.: RCLOS 332.22 SIN.
6. Goh, K. S. (1977). The practice of economic growth (pp. 8–11). Singapore: Federal Publications. Call no.: RSING 330.95957 GOH.
7. Singapore. Parliament. Parliamentary Debates: Official Report. (1971, July 30). First Reading of the Post Office Savings Bank of Singapore Bill (Vol. 31, col. 57). Singapore: [s.n.]. Call no.: RSING 328.5957 SIN; Singapore. Parliament. Parliamentary Debates: Official Report. (1971, October 19). Second and Third Readings of the Post Office Savings Bank of Singapore Bill (Vol. 31, cols. 342–346) Singapore: [s.n.]. Call no.: RSING 328.5957 SIN.


The information in this article is valid as at 2014 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

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