When was the last time you had a good look at your public utilities bill? If you were like millions of other people, chances are that you haven’t. Perhaps you should, it would make for surprising – and not so pleasant – reading.
You will notice that your bill includes your water consumption amount. Under this category, you have to pay for the amount of water you use, a “Waterborne Fee” and a “Sanitary Appliance Fee”.
The Waterborne Fee is, according to the Public Utilities Board (PUB) website, a “variable component levied based on the volume of water used.” Why, you might ask, is there a need for this fee because one is already charged a variable amount depending on the volume of water used?
And you would be right. There is aboslutely no reason why we should be paying twice for the usage of water.
On top of this there is also a 30 percent levy under the Water Conservation Tax. All in, an average household pays $1.80 per cubic metre of water used. The Government purchases raw water from Johor at 3 Malaysian sen per 1,000 gallons or 4.5 cubic metres – that’s less than half-a-Singapore-cent per cubic metre. You do the math.
The Sanitary Appliance Fee is flat charge of $2.80 for every sanitary fitting, presumably to maintain the sewage system.
Next you will see “Refuse Removal” – a flat charge of $4.50. This is on top of the conservancy charge that you pay to your Town Council for the upkeep of your estate. The Town Council finds it hard to absorb the cost of refuse removal probably because it needs the funds for investment. In 2008, the Pasir Ris-Punggol and the Bukit Panjang-Holland Town Councils lost $12 million investing the surplus cash in financial products that turned out to be junk. Talk about refuse removal.
There is also a 1% Late Payment Charge and even a Pink Notice Fee, reserved for those who fail to pay their bill on time or, in other words, for the poor. And if you get your services cut off and want to restore it, there is a Reconnection Fee of $15, another hit to the already down-and-out.
And for icing on the cake, you pay another 7% GST for all these fees. For the use of water alone, you end up paying three layers of tax.
Is it any wonder then that Singapore Power, a monopolistic commercial entity which also administers the PUB and is 100 percent owned by Temasek Holdings, registered a $1-billion profit in 2011?
And to rub chilli-padi into your wound, this amount goes into boosting the GDP which the Ministers use as a gauge of their performance and, of course, to pay themselves that few hundred thousand dollars more.
So the next time you receive your SP Services bill, take a good look at it and see how much you are contributing in taxes – and to the welfare of your Minister.