A post-Budget forum was held on Thursday (23 February) by public feedback unit REACH, with the impending increase in water prices as the key issue.
Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat said on Monday (20 Feb 20) that water prices will increase for the first time in 17 years since 2000.
Including taxes, the prices will go up by 30 per cent in two phases. The first hike will be from 1 July this year, and the second from 1July next year.
Around 120 members of the public attended the forum, most voiced their concern over whether rebates would help to mitigate the higher costs, as well as the trickle-down effect that the hikes would have on prices of other goods, such as coffee and tea.
More than 1,000 items of feedback have been lodged to REACH since the Budget statement was delivered. Top three of public concerns are the water price hike, support for young families and the personal income tax rebate.
The event was chaired by Senior Minister of State for Finance and Law Indranee Rajah, who took the first three questions from the participants who touched on the water price hike, before the session was closed to the media, reassuring participants that the U-Save (Utilities-Save) rebates, which the Government will be giving out, would lessen the cost burden on households.
She stressed that families who live in one- and two-room flats will not, on average, see any increase in their monthly water bills. While, families staying in three-room flats and above will see, on average, an increase of about S$2 to S$11 in their monthly water charges.
She also stated that the cost of goods, such as coffee and tea, "should not and ought not go up" when participants addressed the trickle-down effect that the water price increase.
Currently, the Minister said that firms are charged S$2.15 per cubic metre for the portable water they use. She stressed that after the new charge kick in, it will go up to S$2.74 per cubic metre, an increase of 59 cents, noting that this would have very minimal impact on the price of coffee and tea.
She also said that there will people who are affected by the raise and may not be able to afford it. That is where the Government would step in to assist, which we have in this case done with the U-Save rebates.