Significant portion of population remains unconvinced that water price hike is reasonable, shows REACH survey

A significant portion of the population remains unconvinced that the 30 percent increase in water price announced in Budget 2017 is reasonable.

When asked if it was reasonable to increase water prices to fund the higher costs of water production and to encourage water conservation, 43% of respondents disagreed, 32% agreed, and 24% were neutral.

These were amongst the findings of REACH’s Post-Budget telephone poll conducted to gauge Singaporeans’ reactions to Budget 2017. REACH is the Singapore Government’s feedback unit that facilitates efforts to engage and connect with Singaporeans on national and social issues.

A total of 1,111 randomly selected Singapore citizens aged 20 and above were polled, and the sample was weighted to be demographically representative of the national population in terms of gender, age and race.

Overall, 52 percent of those polled supported the initiatives announced in the Budget. A majority agreed with initiatives that help families cope with the rising cost of living. However, that same majority did not seem to agree that measures such as one-off GST vouchers would be able to help households cope with the cost of living.

Given the stark contrast between the response to the water price hike and the other initiatives, it would be fair to deduce that the public is hardly convinced that the 30 percent increase in water price is reasonable.

Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office and Ministry of Manpower and REACH Chairman, Mr Sam Tan said, “The results of the poll showed that Singaporeans largely welcomed the social measures in Budget 2017, in particular the initiatives to assist families with the costs of raising a family.”

“Similar to the poll results, Singaporeans who gave their feedback on REACH engagement platforms supported the measures to help families. On the enhanced post-Secondary education bursaries, they said it would help lighten the cost of their children’s education. Some also felt the increase in CPF Housing Grant would assist young couples who are looking to settle down and start a family. On infant care, Singaporeans gave their feedback that the quality of childcare should not be compromised when much attention is paid on increasing the number of infant care and childcare places. Some also commented that measures to support families would need to work in tandem with other efforts, such as encouraging work-life balance.”

Mr Tan added, “We have had good engagement sessions with contributors on Budget 2017, which included the increase in water prices. We understand Singaporeans’ concerns. For those who are affected by the rising costs, there are measures to help households through the increase in U-Save rebates. We also hear the suggestions of some Singaporeans to improve communication on the water (price) increase, and to do more public education so that everyone can work collectively to understand the need for water conservation.”

The estimated margin of error of the poll is 2.9% at a 95% confidence level.

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