Photo of Surgeon Koh Poh Koon from straitstimes

Local kopitiams and eateries around Singapore raised their coffee and drinks by at least 10 cents to 20 cents after the implementation of a 30% water price hike yesterday (July 1). According to Chinese papers Shin Ming, media reporters went on a survey in Singapore and found 10 kopitiams have raised the prices of their drinks.

As a result of the actual price hikes from businesses, Minister Koh Poh Koon is now guilty of publishing fake news as he claimed that local coffeeshops will not raise their prices in response. In April 2017, the Minister, then, talked about increasing productivity and innovation to manage the cost:

“Utilities cost, which includes water and electricity costs, accounts for a relatively small share of business costs of firms in the services sector, at less than 1 per cent on average. The most sustainable strategy for businesses to manage cost increases and stay competitive is to transform by upgrading capabilities for higher levels of productivity and innovation.”

Minister Koh Poh Koon also dismissed that Singaporeans can choose not to patronise the shops which raised prices:

“The cost of coffee is not just based on water alone – there are rental costs, workers’ costs, pricing strategies … Price increases can happen with or without water price increases. Coffee can be a 3-in-1 or a latte, in between the price range is quite huge. Consumers then have to make the choice to encourage businesses to price their products to be sustainable.

For those coffee shops in the neighbourhoods, when one increases the price by 10 cents, very soon the rest will follow suit. How will CASE handle this? Will hawker centres set a standard for the price of a drink? Such sweeping statements are unfair to all retailers. If a coffee shop were to raise its prices, consumers can choose not to patronise the business.”

Read: Minister Koh Poh Koon: Only PUB allowed to profit from water price increase, all others will be fined

Among other Ministers and MPs who lied that retailers will not raise prices are Minister Masagos Zulkifli and Minister K Shanmugam. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, then, used his father’s name and said that Lee Kuan Yew would raise the water prices by 30% too.

The justification for the water price hike was that it was never raised for 17 years, and that the government need to build more water filtering infrastructures to accommodate for a greater population growth (6.9 million by 2030). However, the Public Utilities Board (PUB) made S$1 billion in profit over 8 years and has never once went into losses.

Read: Singapore PUB post S$166 million profit in 2016, made S$1 billion in 8 years