I refer to the editorial “Ensuring water supply never ends” and the article “On the actual impact of the hike, and telling it like it is” (Sunday Times, Feb 26).

“You can’t run away from the facts … “

The latter states that “She told reporters later: “You can’t run away from the facts – you have to say what the percentage of the increase is… But I hope with these dialogues, people will get more information and feel more reassured that the impact would not be so large.”

She added that the Government is working on ways to communicate its policies more effectively.

The price increase of water dominated this forum – as it had in a Reach forum two days earlier.”

Still no disclosure of the pertinent “facts”?

As to “”You can’t run away from the facts – you have to say what the percentage of the increase is…”” – why is it that after six days since the increase in water prices was first announced in Parliament on 20 February – followed by the subsequent media report about the press release by the Public Utilities Board (PUB) and now the two post-Budget public forums – the facts (What is the past revenue and profits, and costs, revenue and profit projections in the future?) – are still not disclosed to Singaporeans – to justify the price increase?

Editorial also never mention revenue or profits?

The former (editorial) states that “In times of plenty, however, one might take it for granted, while giving the car a Sunday wash or floating in a kayak across a lake that is part of what PUB calls ABC Waters. The acronym, which stands for “active, beautiful and clean”, holds true because of the extensive water infrastructure that has been put in place over the years, at great cost: $7 billion from 2000 to 2015.

With 8,000km of waterways, 17 reservoirs, Newater and desalination plants, plus imported water, the cost of supplying water was $1.3 billion in 2015 – more than double the cost in 2000. So, one should not expect the price of water to remain still, as it did for the past 17 years. Nor should costs be simply loaded on industrial users.

If underpriced, the conservation and future supply of water will be put at risk.”

You can see that there is also no mention of revenues and profits in the past, or projected costs, revenues and profits in the future.

154th Press Freedom ranking? 

Is it any wonder why our Press Freedom ranking is at an all-time low of 154th?

The “facts”?

Well, so much for rhetoric – let’s look at the facts:

Here’s what I have been able to compute from the PUB’s annual reports available in its web site.

$166.8m profits in FY2015

The Net Income after Government Grants and after Contribution to GCF (Government Consolidated Fund) and Taxation (Profits) for FY2015 was $166.8 million – an increase of 77.3 per cent compared to say FY2010’s profit of $94.1 million.

Last 7 years’ profits – $1.1b?

The total profits in the last seven years (only seven years’ annual reports in the PUB’s web site) was $1.0909 billion.

How much profits in the last 53 years?

Since the PUB was formed in 1963 – how much profits has it made in the last 53 years?

If we include accumulated interest – how much would it be for the last 53 years?

Projected profits – $220m a year?

Since the increase in domestic water prices will be from 30 to 41 per cent – if we assume the overall increase to be say about 32 per cent – the projected profits may be about $220 million ($166.8 x 1.32) a year.

Other countries’ “water profits or losses”?

How do we compare with the “water profits or losses” of other countries?

Population increase = even higher profits?

However, if the population and GDP continues to increase – and water consumption also increase – the projected profits may be even higher.

Can you imagine how much the profits may be when the population reaches 6.9 million? 

Justified or not?

So, is the increase in water prices justified, especially since we are in one of our worse economic downturns?”

Cost vs price per cu m?

The bottom line data may arguably be – what is the cost per cu meter versus the price per cu meter?

“Cost of such goods “should not and ought not” go up”?

By the way  – “Addressing the trickle-down effect that the water price increase would have on the cost of other goods such as coffee and tea, Ms Indranee stressed that the cost of such goods “should not and ought not” go up” (“Water price hike a key concern at post-Budget forum” (Today, Feb 24).


Leong Sze Hian

A.S.S. Editorial Team

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