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Quenching the future: Today’s Singaporeans paying the price

Opinion: As Singapore grapples with rising water prices and ambitious infrastructure projects, the current generation finds itself shouldering the costs. But are today’s consumers fairly bearing the brunt for future needs?

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The recent surge in water prices paints a disconcerting picture: the Singapore government, under the ruling party, appears to be shifting the financial burden of its policies onto ordinary Singaporeans.

Singapore’s national water agency, PUB, has announced an 18% increase in water prices over the next two years, attributing it to rising production and supply costs since 2017.

Currently, most households pay S$2.74 (US$2.01) for every 1,000 litres of potable water.

This price adjustment will add an extra 50 cents per cubic metre, split into two increments: 20 cents in 2024 and 30 cents in 2025.

By the end of 2025, PUB projects that most households will see a modest increase in their monthly bills, not exceeding S$10.

The business sector will encounter varying impacts. While three-quarters of businesses will see a monthly increase of less than S$25, hawkers can expect an average rise of less than S$15.

It’s the households with a water consumption exceeding 40 cubic metres a month that will be most affected. Their rate will increase by 70 cents for every additional cubic metre consumed, tallying to S$4.39 by 2025.

Simultaneously, the price for NEWater — Singapore’s treated reclaimed wastewater primarily used for industrial and cooling purposes — will climb by 17 cents, again in two phases.

Several factors underpin the water rate surge, including a significant 37% hike in electricity market tariffs, a 35% increase in construction costs, rising expenses for essential water treatment chemicals, and augmented maintenance costs.

At first glance, the rationale behind the price hike seems clear. Factors like rising operational costs, infrastructure investments, and increasing electricity tariffs dominate the list. But this overlooks burgeoning maintenance costs brought about by increased manpower expenses. Evidently, water production and supply have become more expensive.

However, there’s more beneath the surface.

Demand for water in Singapore is forecasted to nearly double by 2065. As climate change impacts amplify, there’s a palpable strain on both local water catchments and imported sources.

To combat this, PUB is directing resources towards developing NEWater and desalinated water. While these alternatives are undeniably more resilient, they’re also energy-intensive and come with a hefty price tag.

Interestingly, according to PUB’s annual report, of its S$1.55 billion expense, S$539 million went to maintenance, S$378 million to depreciation, S$283 million to manpower, and S$138 million to electricity.

PUB’s 2022 annual report

Several questions emerge. Are consumers bearing the costs of depreciation, even though PUB gains income from the equipment? What exactly comprises the maintenance costs? And is the expense of producing desalinated water in Singapore increasingly becoming – disproportionately – a major contributor to the overall costs?

It raises the paramount question: if consumers are shouldering costs chiefly because of PUB’s facility expansion to increase capacity, will PUB reduce costs for consumers once it recoups its investment from the new plants? Or will it quietly rake in more profits?

After all, while plant depreciation may be an accounting loss, the facilities continue to treat water, generating revenue for PUB.

The heart of the matter isn’t just about rising costs or the need for more infrastructure; it’s about who’s being asked to foot the bill.

The non-domestic sector in Singapore currently uses about 55% of the water supply, a number projected to jump to 70% by 2060. This indicates that the surge is more attributed to economic activities, such as data centres or wafer manufacturing plants, than individual consumption.

Moreover, with Singapore’s birth rate at a historic low and the population expected to rise due to foreign immigration, it’s plausible that the current generation is bearing the costs for a future they might not be a part of.

Historical data offers insight. Between 1985 and 1994, water consumption shot up from a yearly rate of 3.3% to a high of 6.5% (240 million gallons daily). Today, Singapore requires 430 million gallons daily.

This aligns with the population increase from 3.4 million in 1994 to 5.6 million in 2022. However, while the overall population saw notable growth, the citizen count grew only by 27%. This misalignment raises questions about proportionate consumption in relation to population growth.

There’s a broader critique here concerning the government’s fiscal approach. It seems profits from expanded activities are either retained or funnelled to government-linked companies under Temasek, benefiting from economic growth.

Meanwhile, the majority of consumers bear the rising costs. It echoes an age-old concern of “privatizing profits and socializing losses.”

Furthermore, the price of raw water, despite disputes with Malaysia’s Johor, will remain unchanged until 2061, a stark contrast to the escalating costs burdening Singaporean consumers.

While the importance of water security is irrefutable, it’s essential to pinpoint the reasons behind Singapore’s water issues. They seem to stem more from booming construction, commercial activities, and population growth than from an increase in consumption by longstanding residents.

The assumption that technological advancements are merely in response to increased consumption deserves scrutiny.

Is it fair for today’s consumers to fund expansions intended for future users? It mirrors the dilemma faced by Changi Airport passengers, who are paying for Terminal 5, a service they might never use.

In the words of the late Lee Kuan Yew, “What’s wrong with collecting more money?” The real concern, however, is: who is ultimately paying the price?

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Stinkapore, the land of up and up. Even to die here is not cheap.

its already very obvious by now. back in 2000s i already noticed this massive influx..i was in my 20s then.. it did not dawn upoun me at first but as a decade pass by i realised this is the future..A future of non locals.

Singaporeans are paying for these these cost increases to subsidize the rich and business owners and foreigners. Simple. The 60% are paying to subsidize others .. simple as that u get what u voted for

Terry, I m not luxurious with compliments, apologies. Keep up the great work u have been doing, sacrificing your time and others for the sake of a great and progressive SG society. BTW PAP dislike to make SG into a nation of SG patriots, except PAP livers and supporters.
Wish u the bets.
Please continue to guard against hidden arrows or like what Putin uses, poison, from pple who dislike u.
Be alert at all times. And keep a good low profile against pseudo law keepers of SG whose disguise of inclusiveness sadly breed a nation of sheep for cotton.

What future are today’s Singaporeans paying for? Fertility rate has been below replacement rate for 30 years and is still going down. Nobody is having enough children. Couples have to delay starting families as they have no homes. Increasing costs of living, today, means that people are either saving for the future, or spending tomorrow’s money, today (Debt). Did the ruling government forget that children are the biggest expense a person can have in life? They claim that they are “pro-family,” yet at every opportunity, the ruling government has made Singapore a hostile environment for starting families. But, this is… Read more »

Great analogy Terry, … giving it a twist and variation to, … just another pap price increase !!!

Bloody brill this !!!

So, this could be, in truth, … setting the scene, paving the way, pricing the dream and emptying the pockets of the current inhabitants and generation for, … … SillyPore’s future of, … foreign talent, EP holders, ceca~ised candidates, Sg Inc, it’s cronies and their respective spouses and families, … and FuJian investors !!!

Funny thing is that they can “predict” what the future need for water is to start building more and more water treatment plants (and even calculate the cost thereby telling us they need to increase price), YET they say they don’t know what is the planned population size for their predictions. Absolute monkey business, hor? Truly it seems kelonging is core to the monkeys’ policies nowadays.

The result, of course, will be another round of price increases starting with the our food at hawker centres. I just fail to understand the G’s innate desire to commit election suicide with price increases continuing unabated. Or is the PAP so confident and sure that Singaporeans will still vote PAP and are now taking Singaporeans for granted? I get the feeling the G has a working formula – put up the increases and then quell the growing anger with some sop like an extra $200 (one time offer only) and some vouchers and utilities rebates. Lawrence Wong must be… Read more »

Great article by Terry! 1) The reasons of increase costs of fuel and chemicals is only a convenient EXCUSE. In any operation, the main costs are from labor (ops), construction and maintenance. If our population didn’t grow unnaturally fast, we would need less water treatment plants, meaning lesser labor, construction and maintenance. 2) Graph 1 on population shows that our TOTAL population increased significantly since the Kayu Son took over. Whether citizens, non-residents or money-launderers, everyone use up water. So Singaporeans are bearing the cost of someone’s ego to grow at all costs using imported labor. 3) Graph 2 on… Read more »

future? what future? it has been said umpteen, someone’s gonna foot the bill Big Time, none but the indigenous Singaporeans, well the hands that voted in the Regime, scare resource is being abused just imagine the amount of water wasted to flashing the toilets, whereby alone, the island is concrete nothing else, besides other ways of making everyone pays, whether or not it uses (almost) anything, even the thin air…How nice…the choice’s made, live (happily) with it.

Incoming!
The Seven Kingdoms After The Collapse Of The CABAL/MALEVOLENT ETs COLLABORATORS.

DON’T BE SHOCK, WHERE SINGAPORE WOULD ENDED UP WITH.

https://t.me/Tironianae/222344

i guess … a side effect after every election?
first, public transport fare will rise by 10ct
now water tarif by 18%

when will the sheep going to learn?

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Excellent article Terry. Thank you. You are right,depreciating assets can still be used and are a practice in accounting to asses the value of the company ‘s assets. As costs keep rising, it may be more profitable to move manufacturers to neighbouring countries and negotiate terms on Singaporeans being allowed to work in these countries at management levels. The State will not be able to sustain any further population increase . So this policy must be ditched. The concept of lesser being more must be embraced for our own survival. The more and more by the PAP is going to… Read more »

Venice of the East? It is more like another third world under his useless son.

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