In 2011, not long after Minister Lui Tuck Yew took over as the new Transport Minister, he gave a wide-ranging interview to the media promising that the new growth rate for COEs will not be zero [].

The supply of COEs is dependent on the number of cars scrapped and the allowable vehicle growth rate.

At the time, Mr Lui said, “You could theoretically bring it down to zero or even below zero but I think it will bump up against the aspirations of some who want to own a car.”

He recognised that there will still be those for whom a car is a necessity, such as to ferry their elderly parents around.

In 2011, the government has already cut the vehicle allowable growth rate to 1.5%, down from 3% in 2008.

Fearing that would-be car buyers would be angry because of the cut, he promised everyone that the allowable vehicle growth rate would not be zero since this would “bump up against the aspirations” of those who needed a car.

Four years later, he now changed his stand.

Yesterday (11 Mar), he sent his deputy, Senior Minister of State for Transport Josephine Teo, to tell Parliament that the annual allowable vehicle growth rate is likely to go down to zero.

She did not give an indication of when the cut would happen, merely saying it was a likelihood “in the future”.

That means cars could become even more costly down the road. Against a growing resident population and rising affluence, prices are likely to climb because of growing demand for an increasingly scarce commodity.

Ms Teo said, “As long as incomes continue to grow, it is unlikely for private car ownership to be a low-cost transport option.”

Singapore Vehicle Traders Association secretary Raymond Tang said, “If it’s zero growth, is it still necessary to have a COE system? It becomes a one-for-one replacement.”

It appears that Minister Lui is able to flip-flop and change his mind.

Would you still believe in what he promises like this vow he made in Parliament yesterday?

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