I refer to the article “Government is keeping a close eye on business costs, economy: Lim Hng Kiang” (Channel NewsAsia, Mar 3).

Govt “keeping a close eye on business costs”

It states that “The Government will continue to support local firms through challenges and is keeping a close eye on business costs, said Minister for Trade and Industry (Trade) Lim Hng Kiang at the Committee of Supply debate for his ministry’s budget on Friday (Mar 3).

Rising business costs, in particular rental costs, have been brought up by several Members of Parliament (MPs) this week as a key issue that local firms are struggling with.

Mr Lim said the Government will keep a close eye on business costs to ensure they do not rise excessively.”

So many price increases? 

The Government and government-linked entities have been increasing prices in the last nine months, despite a worsening economic downturn.

Price increase justified? Quantum justified?

Some of the price increases may not only be unjustified, but in regards to the magnitude of the quantum also.

Here are some recent articles and analysis of these “price increase” issues:

Water – “PUB: $1.1b profits last 7 years – how much last 53 years? (Feb 24, 2017)

Service & Conservancy Charges – “S & CC: A truly caring Govt?” (Feb 17, 2017)

Gas – “City Gas prices to rise by 4.5 per cent from Feb 1” (Jan 31, 2017)

Electricity – “Electricity: One of the highest in the world? (Jan 1, 2017)

Childcare fees – “Fee hikes at 200 childcare centres this year” (Jan 1, 2017)

Parking – “HDB car park rates increase 60%? (Dec 16, 2016)

Rubbish fees – “Rubbish fees up: NEA surplus up 32.9%? (Nov 8, 2016)

University hostel fees – “University hostel fees up 6.8% p.a. despite $1b surplus?” (Jun 28, 2016)

Taxis licensing – “Taxi drivers hit by triple whammy?” (Jun 24, 2016)

Hawkers’ misc fees – “Hawkers’ misc fees increased by ? %? (Jun 22, 2016)

So, there were at least price increases for 10 things in the last nine months or so.

“Keeping a close eye on business costs” or “keep increasing prices”?

Is the Government “keeping a close eye on business costs” or arguably, “keep increasing prices”?

Leong Sze Hian

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