Each town council different, but raise charges together?

Published by The Online Citizen on October 3, 2012

By Leong Sze Hian

I refer to the  Co-ordinating Secretary, 14 PAP Town Councils’ reply “All town councils face similar cost pressure” (Today, Sep 7) to Goh Kian Huat’s letter “Still not convinced of the need to increase S&CC” (Today, Sep 3).

Town councils’ costs vary

It states that “With a diverse profile of towns and residents, each town council may have different facilities to meet their residents’ needs. Thus, maintenance costs and operating expenses vary.

Town councils’ grants also vary

The amount of government grants also differ depending on the property profile and the town councils determine service and conservancy charges based on their needs and financial position.

Why raise charges together?

It is precisely the fact that the financials of each town council are different that some residents feel that their charges should not all be increased at the same time.

Tampines had healthy surpluses?

For example, Tampines town council had an operating surplus of $3.51 million in the financial year 2010/2011, surplus for the financial year of $6.9 million and an accumulated surplus of $8.4 million.

With the above healthy financial numbers, is there really a need for Tampines to raise charges now?

Healthy for town councils to compete?

It may in a way be healthy competition amongst town councils, if they only raise their charges as and when they really need to, instead of all the 14 town councils always raising their charges together at the same time in one go.

Otherwise, there may be less incentive to be more prudent in their financial management, without the added scrutiny of residents on who is able to keep charges unchanged.

Work together to cut costs, but also raise charges together?

Finally, “working together to explore new cost-saving measures to keep our utilities cost low” need not necessarily mean raising charges together too.

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.