In a media conference yesterday (7th feb), Minister for Environment and Water Resources (MEW) Masagos Zulkifli confirmed that the prices of water will be raised – to pay for new desalination plants in Singapore.
The price increase will help ensure the reliability of the country’s water infrastructure, as well as support reliable but more expensive sources of water like desalination.
Currently Singapore has two desalination plants that are in operation with a combined capacity of 100 million Imperial gallons a day (mgd), catering to a quarter of Singapore’s daily water demand of 430 mgd.
MEW is intending to add another 3 more plants to the existing ones, which would cater up to a third of Singapore’s daily needs in the future if the population hits 6.9 million.
The Minister also said that water prices is under-priced in Singapore and claims that production costs has gone up:
The price of water has not been revised for many years and that it is underpriced (sic). Alternative water sources like desalination in the face of uncertain weather conditions in the future. Johor’s Linggiu Reservoir may dry up completely if dry weather continues for the next two years.
However, a cursory check on the internet and taking reference from Straits Times ( “Price of water will go up to ensure sustainable supply” and “Water users worried but see need to curb wastage” – 8th Feb), the price of water in Singapore is actually 10 times more expensive than Hong Kong and 7 times for Taiwan.
The cost of 15 cubic m of water a month (S$) is $17.55 in Singapore, compared to $2.28 and $3.43 in Hong Kong and Taiwan’s, respectively. However, since the figures exclude “variable taxes like GST, water conservation and maintenance taxes”, if the 30 per cent water conservation tax and seven per cent GST are factored in, then it would be about $24.04 ($17.55 x 137%).
Making Singapore’s water prices to be 10 times more expensive than those in Hong Kong and 7 times more than Taiwan.
Ten times for Hong Kong ($24.04 divided by $2.28) and 7 times for Taiwan ($24.04 divided by $3.43).
So is the price increase really because water prices are under-priced, to renew aging structure or to cater to future demands of 6.9 million?