I know that many before me have bemoaned the raise in the prices of our utilities and I am sorry to raise it yet again. However, unlike the more esteemed commentators, I will not be dealing with facts and figures. People far better than me have already presented these facts and figures very informatively. Instead, I will focus my attention on the sentiments of such an increase.
It has been commonly raised by Singaporeans how expensive it is to live in Singapore and how the middle classes feel very squeezed. Given the state’s believe in the “many hands” approach to aid, many middle class families are in a position whereby they have to provide for both their aged parents and their children. It is within this tight setting that the prices of both our water and our electricity have been hiked.
It is not even that Singaporeans have a wide choice of utility providers from which to choose from. Competition within the supply of electricity is at its infancy in Singapore and water comes only from Public Utilities Board (PUB). This means that even if Singaporeans oppose the increase, there is not much they can do to change the situation. Electricity and water are basic necessities – what choice is there but to suck it up?
By allowing double price hikes (both on water and electricity) on the same day is surely not just insensitive but a slap in the face for Singaporeans who are already feeling the heat to make ends meet.
6.9% and 15% increments (in electricity and water respectively) are not low increases. In fact, I would say that it is pretty significant especially for households who already have difficulty putting aside a little for a rainy day. Is the government completely blind to the struggles of the common man? If you want Singaporeans to be able to support their families without aid from the state, surely they need to have savings?
I understand that increments may be necessary over time but there should be a limit in how much the raise can be. Perhaps not more than 3% for at least 24 months and not for both utilities at the same time? I have pulled this figure from the top of my head and I defer to experts on a more accurate figure but my basic point is this – The government cannot allow a scenario whereby prices can be raised sharply and suddenly in close proximity on basic necessities.