University hostel fees up 6.8% p.a. despite $1b surplus?

University hostel fees “have increased sharply”

I refer to the article “Higher operating costs push up university hostel fees” (Channel NewsAsia, Jun 28).

It states that “Staying on campus at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) has become costlier for undergraduates as hall rental fees have increased sharply over the past few years.

Since 2009, the cost of staying in a non air-conditioned double room has risen from about S$155 a month per person to about S$245. The monthly rental for an air-conditioned single room has also risen, from S$280 to S$395 over the same period. It costs about S$425 for a similar room at a new hall.”

Hostel fees increased by up to 6.8% p.a.?

As to ““The rates are adjusted by about 4 per cent annually to partially defray the inflationary costs of operating the halls, and ensure that students continue to enjoy quality accommodation that meets their needs”” – “Since 2009, the cost of staying in a non air-conditioned double room has risen from about S$155 a month per person to about S$245” – is an increase of 6.8 per cent per annum.

$236.9m surplus in 2015?

According to NTU’s annual report 2015 – the total surplus for the year (2015) was $236.9 million – an increase of 17.9 per cent from 2014’s $200.9 million.

$1.02b surplus from 2010 to 2015?

Is there really a need to increase hostel fees by as much as 6.8 per cent per annum, when the surplus for 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010  was $236.9, $200.9, $148.8, $74.2, $153.8, $207.1 million, respectively?

This works out to a total surplus of $1.02 billion for the last six years.

Leong Sze Hian

Taxi drivers hit by triple whammy?

Cab firms hit by higher fees

I refer to the article “Cab firms hit by higher operating licence fees” (Straits Times, Jun 24).

Increase may be passed on to drivers?

It states that “National Taxi Association executive adviser Ang Hin Kee said operators may pass the cost on to drivers by raising rental fees. “Higher cost may trickle downwards,” he said.”

A triple whammy?

With a weakening economy that may already be hurting the earnings of taxi drivers, and increasing competition from Uber and Grab – why are we doubling the fees from 0.1 per cent of gross revenue to 0.2 per cent this year, and then to 0.3 per cent next year?

Leong Sze Hian

HDB & URA’s car parks’ income over $600m?

HDB’s car parks’ income $595m?

After writing “Public parking rates increase = more profits?” (Jun 22), I looked at the HDB’s financial statements and found that its income from car parks for the year ended 31 March 2015, was $595.2 million.

HDB’s car parks’ income keeps increasing?

This is an increase of $72.3 million from 2010’s $522.9 million.

I am unable to find the income from car parks for the URA.

HDB & URA’s car parks’ income over $600m?

The combined income from car parks of the HDB and URA may be well over $600 million a year.

Given this large sum – what is the justification for wanting to increase public car parking rates?

Transport revenue in the billions?

Not forgetting that revenue from Electronic Road Pricing (ERP), Certificate of Entitlement (COE), vehicle and petrol taxes, road tax, etc, may be in the billions in a year.

Leong Sze Hian


Public parking rates increase = more profits?

Public parking rates to rise

I refer to the article “Public parking rates set to rise after review” (Straits Times, Jun 23).

It states that “The Housing Development Board (HDB) and Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) both confirmed yesterday that an islandwide review of both short-term and season parking schemes is in the works.

This comes just two months after the ministries of National Development and Transport said in Parliament that parking prices would go up, to bring Singapore’s rates in line with those of other global cities.”

Low wages” also “in line with those of other global cities”?

By the same token, why don’t we try to increase our relatively low wages to be “in line with those of other global cities”?

Already the most costly city to own a car?

We may also need to recognise that the costs of owning a car in Singapore, may already be the highest in the world, with the Certificate of Entitlement (COE), high vehicle and petrol taxes, etc.

Also, Singapore has been ranked as the most expensive city in the world, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

No statistics on revenue and costs?

As to “”Since then, the costs of managing and operating carparks have increased substantially,” said a URA spokesman” – I think an important piece of information that may be missing – is what is the revenue that is derived against the costs of operating the HDB’s 607,000 and URA’s 24,000 car parking spaces?

Leong Sze Hian

Hawkers’ misc fees increased by ? %?

Benefiting food centres’ cleaning companies? 

I refer to the article “Chan, your NTUC Foodfare is benefiting cleaning companies” (The Independent, Jun 22).

Total fees of $1,787 monthly excluding rental?

It states that “Blogger Aaron said:

“So here’s the thing, even before you start bidding for rentals, you’ll need to consider the running costs, which are:

$320 – Service & Conservancy Charge
$500 – Table Cleaning Fee
$850 – Dish Washing Fee

Which is a total of $1670, or more accurately, $1786.90, with GST.””

2013 – cleaning & dishwashing fees from as little as $700?

In this connection,  the article “Hawkers may soon outsource dishwashing” (Straits Times, Aug 5, 2013) said “Now, they typically pay cleaners S$200 to S$500 per month to wipe tables and return dirty dishes to the stalls.

Some top up about another S$500 a month for the dishes to be washed. Others do it themselves.

But with central dishwashing, the total cost is estimated to be as high as S$1,000 per month for participating hawkers”.

2013 – cleaning fees increased by as much as 156%?

Also, the monthly cleaning fees that some hawkers pay will increase by as much as 156 per cent, from $240 to $614 (“Hawkers hit out at hike in cleaning fees“, Straits Times, Sep 27, 2013).

From 2012 to now – fees increased by ? %?

So, looking at the total fees of “$1786.90, with GST” now – what is the percentage increase from the average fees in 2012/2013, before the Budget debate 2012′s announcement that public cleaning will be under the new Department of Cleanliness (DPC) under the National Environment Agency (NEA)?

Is it as much as about double the sum? 

Leong Sze Hian

GST voucher – 2007 2.1m get it, now 1.3m?

1.54m get GST vouchers, Medisave top-ups

I refer to the article “1.54m Singaporeans to get GST vouchers, Medisave top-ups this year” (Channel NewsAsia, Jun 20).

Maximum GST Cash voucher of $500 per adult?

It states that “Under the GST voucher benefits, 1.3 million eligible Singaporeans will receive up to S$300 in cash. In addition, as announced at Budget 2016, households will also get a one-off special payment of up to S$200 in cash.

This means that eligible recipients will receive up to S$500 in cash this year, which will be disbursed in two payments in August and November.

Help pay GST?

We should keep in mind that I believe the original purpose of the GST offset scheme was to help lower-income families pay for the GST when it was introduced.

For example, even a lower-income family of say two adults and two children, spending just $1,200 a month, would incur GST of $1.008 ($1,200 x 12 x 7 per cent) a year.

So, the maximum GST Voucher cash payment of $1,000 ($500 x 2 adults whose individual assessible income is less than $26,000, in this example), may only just cover the GST that they incur.

In a sense, those who spend more than $1,200 a month – may not get enough to offset their GST.

More help for lower-income in 2007?

When the GST rate was raised from 5% to 7% in July 2007, a household in the bottom 20% had to pay additional GST of $370 per year, but received an offset package of $910 per year, in addition to permanent benefits of $1,000 per year. (“Budget debate round-up speech“, Mar 2, 2011)

Less help now?

It’s GST Cash of up to a maximum of $500 per adult now.

As to the Medisave top-up for those age 57 and above , it can only be used for medical purposes and insurance premiums, and is thus not cash that can effectively offset GST expenditure.

So, after adjusting for inflation since 2007, are lower-income families arguably, effectively getting less now under the GST Voucher scheme, compared to the previous GST Offset Package?

2.1m dereased to 1.3m – get GST Cash voucher now?

In 2012, the media reported that 2.1 million Singaporeans would get GST vouchers (“2.1 million Singaporeans to receive GST Vouchers”, Asiaone, Jun 30, 2012).

So, why has the number getting GST Cash vouchers apparently decreased by 800,000 (2.1 million – 1.3 million) Singaporeans or 38 per cent, to 1.3 million now?

Leong Sze Hian

1 day job termination notice “is sufficient”?

New guidelines for contract employees

I refer to the article “Guidelines released on leave benefits, notice period for contract employees” (Channel NewsAsia, Jun 20).

It states that “Under the new guidelines, employers are encouraged to treat contracts renewed within one month of the previous contract as continuous, and provide leave benefits based on the cumulative term of the contracts.”

Employers are encouraged to follow the guidelines?

Since employers are only encouraged to follow the new guidelines – how many of the “202,400 term contract employees last year, forming 11.3 per cent of the resident workforce” – will be treated fairly according to the new guidelines?

1 day notice of termination is “sufficient time”?

As to “Guidelines were also released on the notice period given to term contract employees. Those who have their contracts renewed on a recurrent basis should be given sufficient notice before their contract expires, the agencies said.

In the absence of an agreed notice period, the notice period should not be less than one day if the employee has been working for the company for a cumulative period of less than 26 weeks. This will allow sufficient time for either party to make alternative arrangements, the agencies said” – how can just “one day” be “will allow sufficient time for either party to make alternative arrangements”?

Leong Sze Hian

1st time ever in history – S’poreans’ unemployment rate lower than locals?

More older workers jobless

I refer to the article “Unemployment for Singaporeans falls but more older workers jobless: MOM Q1 labour report” (Straits Times, Jun 13).

S’poreans’ unemployment rate lower than residents’?

It states that “The unemployment rate fell from 3 per cent last quarter to 2.6 per cent for citizens, and from 2.9 per cent last quarter to 2.7 per cent for residents.”

I believe this is the first time ever in Singapore’s history that the unemployment rate of citizens is lower than that of residents.

In the past, I understand that it has always been the reverse.

No breakdown of jobs growth into S’poreans, PRs & foreigners? 

As to “Employment growth slowed at 13,000 jobs from the seasonal high of 16,100 in the previous quarter. This, however, was still higher than the sharp contraction of 6,100 jobs in the same period last year” – although there is no breakdown of the 13,000 jobs growth into Singaporeans, permanent residents (PRs) and foreigners – we can try to estimate the number of Singaporeans, PRs and foreigners in the total workforce, from the unemployment rates and the numbers of the unemployed.

Estimated 46.8% of workforce non-S’poreans?

Accordingly, I estimate the number of Singaporeans, PRs and foreigners to be 1,953,846 (50,800 unemployed divided by 2.6% unemployment rate), 283,191 (60,400 divided by 2.7%) and 1,432,163 (total workforce 3,669,200 – estimated 2,237,037 residents) respectively.

This works out to an estimated 46.8 per cent of the total workforce being non-Singaporean (PRs and foreigners).

I believe this is also the first time in the history of Singapore that the trend of an increasing proportion of non-Singaporeans to Singaporeans is now being reversed.

I would seem that the tightening of our foreign labour policies may finally be showing up in the statistics.

PRs unemployment rate higher than S’poreans?

Finally, another way of looking at the unemployment statistics is that the estimated unemployment rates of PRs and foreigners are 3.4 (9,600 unemployed divided by 283,191 workers) and 0.65 per cent (9,315 divided by 1,432,163) respectively, against the 2.6 per cent for Singaporeans.

I believe this is also the first time ever that the unemployment rate for PRs is higher than Singaporeans.

Leong Sze Hian.




Wage increase excludes those who did not work full-time continuously for at least a year?

64% who had wage increase – even higher?

After writing “36% of firms cut or did not increase wages?” (Jun 2) – some readers have asked – since real wage growth was 5.4 per cent (including employer CPF contribution) last year and 36 per cent of firms did not give a wage increase – does it mean that the real wage growth of the 64 per cent who had a wage increase was even higher?

Well, according to the report – “Data on annual wage change from the survey refer to the change in wages paid to full-time resident employees in continuous employment of at least one year. This is the only source that provides breakdown of total wage changes into changes in basic wages and bonuses for three categories of employees, namely the rank-and-file, junior management and senior management.”

Part time workers and full time workers not in continuous employment for at least a year excluded?

So, since part-time workers (those who work up to 35 hours a week) and full-time workers who did not work continuously for at least  12 months are excluded – does it mean that the real wage increase for all workers may even be lower?

Leong Sze Hian


36% of firms cut or did not increase wages?

I refer to the Report on Wage Practices 2015 released on 2 June.

36% cut or did not increase wages?

It states that “A smaller proportion of establishments raised wages in 2015 than a year ago.

64% of private establishments raised the total wages of their employees in 2015, down from 72% in 2014.

There was an increase in the proportion of firms which kept wages unchanged from the previous year (2015: 25%, 2014: 20%), and to a smaller extent, cut wages (2015: 11%, 2014: 7.7%).”

So, does it mean that about 36 per cent of firms cut or did not give any wage increase?

How many workers did not get any wage increase?

How many workers does this translate  to?

Info & Comm had lowest wage increase?

Among all the 11 sectors – Info and Comm had the lowest total wage increase of 2.5 per cent.

This looks kind of strange as we have consistently been told that this sector needs the most local workers and there there is a shortage of workers.

Leong Sze Hian