SINGAPORE: After its MPs brought up rising cost of living issues in Singapore last week in Parliament, the Workers’ Party asked, “Are you feeling increasingly squeezed with all the rates increases?” in a TikTok video published on Saturday (Oct 7).

WP MPs have been asking in Parliament if the increase in rates for certain services, including water supply and transportation, can be delayed, given high living costs due to inflation. Mr Louis Chua (Sengkang GRC) also cited the Government’s “better-than-expected fiscal position” in a speech on Oct 4.

@thehammertok

WP MPs rose to speak on various cost of living issues in parliament this week. Are you feeling increasingly squeezed with all the rates increases? #wpsg #sgparliament #sgnews #pritamsingh #louischua #geraldgiam

♬ original sound – The Workers’ Party 🔨 – The Workers’ Party 🔨

On his part, Leader of the Opposition Pritam Singh (Aljunied GRC), the party’s Secretary General, asked if there’s a way to delay the increase in the price of water services, whether the Public Utilities Board (PUB), Singapore’s National Water Agency, could use its profits to offset higher costs.

Mr Singh said that water prices had already gone up by 30 per cent in 2018, and that with the Government’s latest announcement, prices would go up by another 18 per cent.

“The cost of producing water and supplying has exceeded our current water price and there is a need to have a price revision…when we say right-priced water, we want to reflect the scarcity value of water,” Senior Minister of State for Sustainability and the Environment Amy Khor said in answer on Oct 4. “That water is precious from the very first drop.”

The WP MPs also tackled public transport fare hikes, with Mr Chua asking whether the PTC plans to expunge the 15.6 per cent increase that has already been deferred pending fare review exercises.

“If the deferred fare amount is ‘expunged,’ it does not mean that these costs of running the public transport system will simply disappear into thin air. If it’s to ask the public transport operators to absorb the costs, we need to consider how this will impact their financial sustainability over time,” said acting Transport Minister Chee Hong Tat.

Mr Chua answered by saying that a look at the returns that some of the operators are generating shows that one is generating 11 per cent ROE (return on equity) in the past year and 13 per cent ROE in the past five years. “I struggle to see how the financial sustainability of the operator at this point in time is actually in question,” he added.

WP MP Gerald Giam (Aljunied GRC) also spoke on the issue, saying that the fare hikes in public transport come at the same time the country is seeing record-high COE prices and increases in fares, as well as raised fees for taxis and private hire vehicles (OHV), which came into effect in July. “Singaporeans cannot help but feel squeezed no matter how, no matter which mode of transport they take,” he added. /TISG

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