Price increases on various services have been coming in thick and fast since the general election in 2015. The 6.1% increase in electricity tariff to be implemented with immediate effect is but the latest example.
During his campaign speech in 2015, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said: “You're voting for me, you're voting for my programme, and you're voting for my promise. And the promise is, we will work with you to make Singapore better for you and your children.”
How does the slew of price increases in water, gas, electricity, carpark, ERP, and S&CC rate make things better for the people at a time when economic uncertainty prevails?
Retrenchments keep coming – there were nearly 20,000 lay-offs in 2016 compared to 15,000 in 2015, the unemployment rate is at its highest since 2010, and the job market is at its worst in years. Yet the PAP sees it fit to add to the financial pressure of Singaporeans by lumping in another fee increase.
Singapore Power (SP) which provides gas and electricity (services once provided under the PUB) is a profit-making entity owned by Temasek Holdings. The PAP Government thinks nothing of turning a profit off the back of Singaporeans even for essential services like the provision of gas and electricity.
The PAP's strategy is clear: It increases revenue collection through taxes and fees early in the election cycle, and then puts out a generous budget during an election year.
It did this in the SG50 Budget 2015, which ran a basic deficit of $9.6 billion – the widest on record – with $11.7 billion worth of special transfers.
Now that the party is over and the spending has delivered for the PAP the desired results, the people are being made to pay it back through price and tax increases.
Singaporeans can make lives less difficult for ourselves by breaking this cycle of exploitation. The people must not be taken in by the PAP's sweet-sounding rhetoric during elections and remember that a government without a strong and effective opposition to keep it in check will always exploit us.
Chee Soon Juan