WP Youth Wing Policy Statement
22 Dec 2006
Half Frozen Half Helpful
The article "Govt to freeze fees for one year after GST hike" (ST 1 December 2006) gave much hope for the people that costs will remain affordable. The first paragraph of the article wrote:
"ALL government fees will stay frozen and not be raised for one year when the goods and services tax (GST) goes up from 5 to 7 percent"
These hopes were changed when the article "Government spells out fees to be frozen" (ST 13 December 2006) produced non-exhaustive lists of inclusions and exclusions to the fee freeze.
The Workers' Party Youth Wing would like to express its disappointment with the government having failed to take into account the need to freeze fees for basic amenities such as transport, utilities fees and polytechnic and university fees.
With the hike in GST from 5 - 7%, Singaporeans will be hard hit by an increase in their daily costs of living. Transport(16.7%), fuel & utilities (4.5%) and health care (5.3%) account for a total of 26.5% of the basket of Consumer Price Index (CPI) goods revised in 2004. This would account for a hike in inflation rates in the near future. If any offset in GST were to occur, these mentioned areas would provide a distinct impact on Singaporeans.
At the same time, radio/TV license, registration fees for passports, birth certificates and driving license, marriage registration fees are not significantly represented in the CPI. More often than not, the latter expenses are either annual or one-time payments with only a nominal impact on the lives of most Singaporeans.
The 13 Dec ST article also wrote "Fees not set by the Government are excluded from the list as any changes are determined by market or other forces". As far as the Workers' Party Youth Wing understands, public transport fees are approved by the Public Transport Council, road taxes decided by LTA, electricity tariffs are approved by the Energy Market Authority and polytechnics are Statutory Boards of the Government. However, it appears that these items were specifically excluded from the list of fee freezes.Interestingly enough, The Workers' Party Youth Wing would like to point out that students in polytechnic and universities are already paying higher transport fees as compared to students from primary & secondary schools, Millennia Institute, junior colleges and the Institute of Technical Education. Coupled with this is the possibility of an impending increase in polytechnic and universities fees as has been historically demonstrated. The Workers' Party Youth Wing would like to see more in the budget by way of assurance that education remains foremost in the minds of polytechnic and university students instead of worrying about where the fare for the next bus or MRT ride is going to come from.
工人党青年团想要指出一个非常有趣的现象。相比之下，就读于理工学院和大专学府的莘莘学子们所缴付的车资费和小学生，中学生，初院生， 工艺教育学院生远远大不相同。此外，这些莘莘学子们还得担忧明年消费税上涨之后，学费相对调高的可能性。因此，工人党青年团促请政府体恤他们的困境，在明年财政年度财政预案中给予工院和大学生们适当的帮助与津贴。 由此一来，工院和大学生们就能更专心学业，再也不需要为每天的车资费发愁。
The Workers' Party Youth Wing welcomes the Government's announced commitment not to add to inflation at the time of the GST increase. To really achieve this goal, items for public transport fees, water & electricity and tertiary education fees should be included in the list of fee freezes. These items would provide more tangible help to the people.