A right-wing economics professor from government university, Nanyang Technological University (NTU), told the state media that water prices should have been raised by 100% instead of the 30%. NTU economics professor Ng Yew Kwang told state media ChannelNewsAsia (CNA) that he thinks the price increase is too little:
“In my view, it’s too little. From an overall economy point of view, we can increase it even more. I would prefer at least 50 per cent – if not 100%.”
The right-wing academic claims that Singaporeans are currently paying one of the lowest prices in the world and that the increase would at least “put Singapore on par” with European countries like Denmark and Germany. The NTU professor also claim that taxes will have to be increased if water prices are too low, without providing any numbers for the profit made by the Public Utilities Board (PUB) which amounts to hundreds of millions every year:
“If you compare internationally, to other Asian cities like Taipei, Hong Kong and Beijing, Singapore’s prices are higher. But if you take into account the income level, then it’s not high. If you compare it with other European countries, their prices are much higher. In most countries, water prices tend to be too low, rather than too high, as the public thinks water, which is essential to life, should be free. If consumers pay less, then the government will have to make up the difference. Then that means the government has to collect taxes from other sources … That has a disincentive effect.”
The NTU professor also claimed that raising prices will “encourage consumers to save appropriately”, speaking in tandem to PAP MP Lee Bee Wah’s earlier statement which was ridiculed by the public.
The President of the Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (ASME), Kurt Wee, told the state media that he is “quite sure” the water price hike will be passed on to consumers by a round of inflation on goods and services:
“The price hike is expected to be passed on to consumers.Businesses will price up the costs of their goods and services accordingly. There’s no doubt about that because there’s no way that businesses can keep absorbing costs. And we’re in the climate where demand is falling; businesses are experiencing a shrinkage of demand. So I’m quite sure it will be passed down to the customers.”
The publication of views from right-wing academics like Prof Ng Yew Kwang is part of the propaganda effort by the government to ease dissent. In 2013, Prof Ng Yew Kwang defended the government saying that concerns of foreign immigration are baseless.