Andrew Loh / Deputy Editor

In this time of record inflation, rising costs and record fuel prices, why aren’t the Town Councils, especially the PAP-run ones, doing anything to help residents cope?

The PAP town councils together have more than $1 billion in their sinking funds, with millions invested in shares and corporate bonds, as reported in the media recently.

The Hong Kah Town Council, for example, “has about $150 million in its sinking fund, with one-third invested in government bonds returning 2 to 3 per cent. Another third is in short-term fixed deposits with returns of 1.5 to 3 per cent, with the rest handled by fund managers.” (Straits Times, Dec 2, 2007)

According to Creative Technology’s (CT) annual report, Holland-Bukit Panjang Town Council (HBPTC) was listed as one of the majority shareholders with 530,000 shares currently valued at about $3.2 million. (The Online Citizen).

One then would have to ask: What are these investments and their returns or yields used for, if not to help residents in time of need? In all the reports that I have read, none have clarified what these returns are for.

Isn’t it about time that the PAP town councils do something for residents? (I refer only to PAP-run town councils as the two opposition ones do not invest their funds, as far as I am aware.)

In our earlier article on TOC, we reported that:

The Sembawang Town Council has $269 million in its funds – with $237 million going into its Sinking Fund.

Aljunied TC has $93 million – with $67m going into its Sinking Fund.

Bishan-Toa Payoh has $139m – with $96m going into its Sinking Fund.

Opposition-held Hougang Town Council has $14 million in its Sinking Fund.

The only thing which the town councils have done so far in terms of helping residents cope with rising inflation is to freeze their Service and Conservancy Charges for this year. (See here). The Government has also chipped in with ad hoc subsidies.

I think more can be done.

For a start, the town councils should reduce their penalties for late payment, at least for this year. They should also reduce the S&C amount itself. It is quite evident that the PAP town councils are in a position to do so.

The consequences of not being able to pay your S&CC can be very dire indeed.

If you can’t pay your S & CC, you are slapped with late payment charges of up to 2% per month – which is comparable to that charged by credit cards companies. Why is this so?

Next, you will get a legal letter of demand, followed by a court appearance if you still can’t pay, where you may be slapped with a fine. Reportedly, there can be hundreds in court on a single day. If you can’t pay, how can you afford to pay the fine?

Will you end up in jail?

Thus, reducing S&CC will go some way in helping Singaporeans cope with the record inflation now being experienced and ease Singaporeans’ minds. The fact that the town councils have remained prominently and conspicuously silent says a lot.

Why should town councils still be collecting so much money, stash them away in so-called investments, make reasonable yields, and not use these to help residents?

As Mr Wang said:

It’s as if the town council were a fund manager or a unit trust. Except that you as customer are never going to get a cent back. They took your cash, and used some of it to maintain the physical facilities of your neighbourhood … and the rest of your money is for the town council to go and play with, according to their own rules! And you still have to pay them. Every month.

As if these were not enough, Minister of State for National Development, Grace Fu, said in September 2007 that “according to feedback to HDB, 81 percent of residents said they were willing to pay more for service and conservancy to enjoy the new flat designs. About half of them said they were willing to pay above S$10 more than the usual rates.”

This was followed by reports in May, 2008, that Aljunied Town Council was looking to increase S&C charges for ‘the dirtiest precints’, despite the fact that residents there already pay one of the highest rates of S&CC. The town council have since clarified that they have no intention of raising the S&CC.

The PAP’s election manifesto was titled “Staying Together, Moving Ahead”. Now is the time for the PAP town councils to live up to that declaration and show Singaporeans that they mean what they said.

After all, MPs of the town councils should show not only leadership but also empathy and understanding. Continuing to collect so much from residents and then stashing the money away in ‘investments’ which returns or losses are not readily-made known only shows the insensitivity that the town councils have towards the plight of residents.

PAP town councils should go the extra step and adjust S&C charges downward.

Singaporeans are not the piggy banks with an endless supply of funds which the town councils can keep coming back to for more and more money to “invest” – especially at this time when Singaporeans are anxious about rising cost and record inflation.

Read also:

You give your money to your town council so that it can play the stock market – By Mr Wang

Taking the easy way out? – By Leong Sze Hian & Andrew Loh

$1 billion in town council funds: What are they used for? – By Leong Sze Hian

Uniquely Singapore, F1 or F9: Residents willing to pay more for service and conservancy? – By Leong Sze Hian


Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
You May Also Like

主题公园搞噱头 “绑猪蹦极”惹众怒

中国一家主题公园为了搞噱头,竟然将一头75公斤重的猪搬上高达68米的塔楼上,让它进行“蹦极跳”,却引来网民怒斥“残忍没人性”! 有关事件于上周末(1月18日),是中国重庆美心红酒小镇主题公园的蹦极跳开幕仪式上发生。 据当地媒体《环球时报》指出,有关活动是该公园为新设立的蹦极跳项目举办开幕仪式的一部分,也是趁此噱头打响声誉。 更甚的是,主题公园表示,有关活动也象征着猪年的结束,以及迎接鼠年的到来。 视频中只见一头重达75公斤的猪四脚被绑着,还穿着披风,被数名男子搬上68米高的楼塔后,被绑上蹦极跳的绳索,就被推下来。 只见猪只被推下后就哀嚎不断,却听见下方的人群在看见猪只掉下后又弹起来数回时,发出欢声大笑,形成了明显的对比。 据报导,猪只随后被放下,并送到屠宰场中。 然而主题公园的此项活动却激起社交媒体上民众的愤怒,纷纷表示活动对动物而言过于残酷,简直就是酷刑。 人道对待动物协会(People for the Ethical…

High cost of living because of S'poreans' “higher aspirations”: Ng Eng Hen

“Having higher aspirations in life is a reason why Singaporeans find the…

People’s Association says Chingay Parade to continue; Chinese performers screened and cleared by doctor

People’s Association (PA) Director Tan Swee Leng wrote to ST Forum today…

MND minister declines to comment on CPF protest incident

The Minister for National Development, Khaw Boon Wan, has declined to comment…