SINGAPORE — The People’s Action Party (PAP) run town councils in Singapore have announced that Service and Conservancy Charges (S&CC) will be increased over the next two years, impacting Housing Board (HDB) residents, commercial properties, and market and food stalls.
This decision is in response to the growing financial pressure caused by escalating energy prices, maintenance and manpower costs, according to the Marine Parade Town Council (MPTC). The two-stage hike will begin on 1 July 2023, followed by a subsequent increase on 1 July 2024.
Monthly fees for HDB flats will rise by between $0.70 and $7.90 for the first increment, while commercial property owners and tenants will experience a rise between $0.01 to $0.40 per square meter. Charges for market and food stalls will also see an increase ranging from $2.20 to $31.50.
The second hike scheduled for 1 July 2024, will witness the HDB residents’ fees climbing by an additional $1 to $9.10. Commercial property owners and tenants will face a rise ranging from $0.02 to $0.41 per square meter, and the charges for market and food stalls will increase by an additional $2.20 to $36.40.
Despite these increased charges, MPTC assured that the hike is less than what was initially projected, thanks to special government funding support aimed at mitigating the effects of escalating maintenance costs. Without this intervention, the required S&CC increases would have ranged between $3 and $21.90 per month for HDB residents, based on property type.
Lim Biow Chuan, Coordinating Chairman for PAP town councils and Member of Parliament for Mountbatten SMC, stressed that without the adjustment in S&CC rates, most PAP town councils were at risk of running a deficit for the financial year 2023/2024. Consequently, councils would have to dip into recent surpluses intended for the sinking funds set aside for long-term maintenance works.
The S&CC rate adjustment is in line with the need to maintain sufficient funds for estate maintenance and upgrades over the next five years. According to MPTC, charges will vary among towns based on factors like the age and profile of estates, residents’ needs, and operating expenditures.
Residents will be informed of the new rates by their respective town councils. The last increase in S&CC fees was implemented in June 2018, where rates rose between $1 and $17 per month for HDB residents over two years.
With most town councils in Singapore managed by PAP, the Sengkang, Aljunied and Hougang constituencies under the Workers’ Party (WP) remain the exception. WP has yet to make any announcement about any impending hikes to the S&CC in their wards.
Bukit Batok SMC MP Mr Murali Pillai, in April, sought more information about the special funding support for town councils announced in March 2023. In response, Minister for National Development Mr Desmond Lee detailed the financial aid the government is providing to offset maintenance costs for town councils and residents.
“To offset the costs of estate maintenance for Town Councils and residents, the Government has been providing substantial grants of around $240 million a year to Town Councils via the Service & Conservancy Charges (S&CC) Operating Grant, the GST Subvention Grant, the Lift Maintenance Grant and the Lift Replacement Fund Matching Grant,” Mr Lee said.