Water price: Have costs, but no revenue?


Cost of supplying water has more than doubled

I refer to the article “Cost of supplying water has more than doubled: PUB” (Straits Times, Feb 24).

It states that “The cost of developing and operating Singapore’s water supply system has more than doubled in 15 years.

In 2000, it cost about $500 million to run the system, national water agency PUB said yesterday. This included water treatment, reservoir operations, Newater production, desalination, used-water collection and treatment, and the maintenance of water pipelines. By 2015, the cost had risen to $1.3 billion.

Citing the figures following media queries, the PUB said: “(The) water price needs to be raised to reflect rising costs.”

Yesterday, the PUB said that since the last price increase in 2000, the cost of treating and supplying water has been going up.

The resources needed for the task, such as chemicals, materials and manpower, have become more expensive over the years, said the water agency.

It also has to rely on more costly methods to develop Singapore’s water system, as the environment becomes increasingly urbanised, the PUB added.

For instance, it can no longer just dig trenches to lay water pipes underground. As Singapore becomes more built up, it has to use pipe-jacking, a more expensive method which involves assembling pipes into shafts and then pushing them into position with a hydraulic jack.

From 2000 to 2015, the PUB also invested $7 billion in water infrastructure, it said.

The agency expects to spend another $4 billion on such infrastructure from this year to 2021, to meet growing demand and boost the resilience of the water system, especially to face the challenges posed by climate change.”

So many reasons, but the obvious data is missing?

So many reasons and so many words to explain why the need to increase water prices? – but the most obvious and important piece of information is missing – what is the revenue every year until now, for the last year, and the projections into the future?

Got costs, but no revenue?

Without these information – how to we relate the revenue to the costs, and the profits?

Cost vs price per cu m?

The bottom line data is arguably – what is the cost per cu meter versus the price per cu meter?

Mismatch in S’poreans skills to jobs?

There has been much debate and discussion about the lacking in skills and knowledge of Singaporeans – thus resulting in so many job vacancies that continue to remain unfilled.

Lack skills to answer a simple question?

Perhaps this issue of the water price increase may underscore the above – when we arguably lack the basic skills and knowledge to even provide and answer a simple question like the justification of the price increase – by omitting the most obvious and important piece of information and data in the Budget in Parliament, as well as the subject clarification by the authorities after the Budget!

Uniquely Singapore!

Leong Sze Hian

P.S. You may also like to come with your friends to attend the public forum on “Budget: Govt still not spending on CPF, HDB or healthcare” on 25 Feb 2-5 pm


About the Author

Leong Sze Hian has served as the president of 4 professional bodies, honorary consul of 2 countries, an alumnus of Harvard University, authored 4 books, quoted over 1500 times in the media , has been a radio talkshow host, a newspaper daily columnist, Wharton Fellow, SEACeM Fellow, columnist for theonlinecitizen and Malaysiakini, executive producer of Ilo Ilo (40 international awards), Hotel Mumbai (associate producer), invited to speak more than 200 times in about 40 countries, CIFA advisory board member, founding advisor to the Financial Planning Associations of 2 countries. He has 3 Masters, 2 Bachelors degrees and 13 professional  qualifications.