For most Singaporeans, the weekends have been a time for family bonding and rest.
Yet starting from 1 July, they will find that merely resting at home will cost more than yesterday (30 Jun). This is because the 2nd phrase of the 30% water hike will kick in, while electricity tariffs for the Q3 2018 will be 6.9% higher than the previous quarter.
Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat first announced a 30% water hike in his budget speech in Feb 2017. The increase was due to "update our water prices to reflect the latest costs of water supply". According to the PUB, it costs $1.3 billion a year to operate Singapore's water system, up from $500 million in 2000.
While there may be an increase in operating costs, a TOC contributor wrote last year that the whole issue of water price increase essentially stemmed from overpopulation which depleted Singapore's existing water supply which then necessitated more expensive means of water production.
Phillip Ang – a blogger who has been advocating for government transparency – researched into the matter and found that the annual profit for SP has been making an annual profit of almost $1 billion a year for the past 13 years.
Despite such massive profits, HDB households will pay $5 to $8 more a month for their water bills with this second stage increase.
Alternative political parties have expressed strong disagreement over this matter. The Singapore Democratic Party has called this "taking advantage" of Singaporeans, considering that there are already 3 layers of tax – a Waterborne Fee, a Water Conservation Tax and a 7% GST levied on top of these 2 taxes.
On the other side of the coin, this would be the 3rd consecutive quarter in which electricity tariffs have increased. In Q1 2018, the tariffs were $0.2156 cents per Kilowatt hour, while Singaporeans will see themselves paying $0.2365 cents per Kilowatt hour now, or a 9.6% increase in 6 months.
Yet according to the Energy Market Authority in 2016, 95% of Singapore's electricity is generated using natural gas. In a separate blog post, Ang noted that natural gas prices were largely unchanged since a year ago and asked "why is PAP still justifying electricity tariff increase with increase in oil price instead of natural gas"?
According to a commentary by research associates Allan Loi and Nur Azha Putra, gas imports are typically pegged to oil prices as they lack an established pricing benchmark. Given the nexus between oil prices and gas tariffs, they predicted that the tariffs "could rise to beyond 23 cents per kWh for this upcoming quarter".
They advised that "households and businesses should prepare for yet another quarter of an increase in electricity tariffs - since oil prices already started to move up since mid-2017".
Already netizens are feeling the pinch: