Senior Minister of State for Finance Indranee Rajah stressed that this is the right time to increase the water charges as a necessary measure to ensure future supplies, saying, “You sometimes just have to bite the bullet and say, this is a critical resource, you have got to ensure future supply, so the time to do it is now.”
Speaking on 938LIVE radio’s Talkback call-in show, the host, Bharati Jagdish, stated that all of the callers who called them during the show asked about the particular decision. The callers said it really concern them as this might give huge impact, not only to their households but also to their businesses as well.
Ms Bharati then asked the Minister, “They are concern about the rise in the cost of water and electricity. Why would this done at this point, where the economy is not doing so well and people are afraid for their jobs? Why cound not all of this have waited?”
The Minister then said that some may remember the water campaign which said that every drop is precious and that some months ago the pictures of Linggui Dam were spreading and it showed that it had really gone down in terms of volume.
Therefore, she stressed that it is very critical that Singaporeans have water supplies and at the same time we have to ensure that we conserve water, adding that this is the first time in 17 years that the water prices see hikes.
Host Bharati Jagdish then replied, “Which is why some people might say, since you did not raise it for the last 17 years, could not you held off for a little longer until things start to get better in the economy?”
Ms Indranee then said that looking at the things going forward, the Government decided that it really have to plan now, saying, “You can put it off this year. But then next year you don’t know what the economy will be like.”
However, she added that the very important part is to help those who would not be able to manage. She said, “That is why you’ve got measures like the GST U-Save, GST special cash payment. These are measures which are targeted at helping those who are having some difficulty in managing the increase in cost.”
The host then asked, “This is why many people would say that all of these would have helped the lower income. But, how about the middle income? And I think this really refrain what many of us heard over the years that not enough had been done for the middle income. What would you have to say to the middle income households and businesses as well who might be grappling with this increase?”
The Minister then stated that what really help these middle income is to help to navigate and thrive in this economy. She said that there is a handout to help Singaporeans manage their cost.
“The way to help is to say here is train program that can help you upskill, here are schemes, for example SME go digital and SME working capital loan, these are schemes that would really help your businesses grow.”
She said that when the businesses grow this may not only help them to manage not only these costs but also the revenue as a whole.