Through the National Research Foundation (NRF) under the Prime Minister’s Office, the Singapore government is helping to pay an undisclosed sum of a S$60 million rail reliability research for SMRT. With NRF’s funding, the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) will use the government school resources to set up a joint lab with SMRT.
The research lab launched today (May 20) will aim to improve train reliability and help subsidise SMRT’s obligations. This is not the first time the Singapore government use public funds to support SMRT, earlier in 2012, they provided S$1.1 billion under the Bus Service Enhancement Programme (BSEP) to the company and another public transport operator SBS Transit. Also in May this year, the Land Transport Authority “rewarded” SMRT S$504,000 and SBS Transit S$1.3 million for “improving reliability”.
As such, SMRT is getting a subsidy for rail reliability research and simultaneously rewarded for reliability improvement. In other countries, the transport ministry and the operator would have been charged for corruption and funneling public taxes into private corporations.
Just last week, SMRT clocked a S$40.3 million profit in a single quarter and a bulk of the profits are distributed to investors in dividends. Cost-related expenses like rail maintenance and research should be funded by SMRT alone, but it is nationalised by the Singapore government while profits are privatised.
Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan has no comment on SMRT’s profiteering and state-sponsored subsidies.