Why are residents getting less out of their S&CC even with increased MND grants?

By: Leong Sze Hian

I refer to the article “Town Councils to set aside at least 14% of S&CC collections, grants into lift fund; will also get more grants from MND” (Straits Times, Jan 23).

It states that “From April 1 this year, all town councils will have to set aside a minimum of 14 per cent of their service and conservancy charges (S&CC) collected from residents, and of government grants, into a dedicated lift replacement fund.”

In addition, it states that this “is on top of existing regular contributions – at least 26 per cent of town councils’ collections – to the general sinking fund” – I understand that the media has always reported the minimum percentage to the sinking fund as 30 to 35 per cent.

So, is it 26 or 30 to 35 per cent? If it is 30 to 35 per cent – does it mean that the total contribution to the sinking fund will now be 44 to 49 per cent? Is there any country in the world that has such a high sinking fund percentage contribution?

More grants?

With regard to “But town councils will also get more grants from the Ministry of National Development (MND) to help cover their costs.

The MND added that it will increase the S&CC operating grants it currently gives to the town councils to help cover their costs, and also provide additional grants to match part of the town councils’ contributions to their lift replacement fund.

Details of these assistance measures will be released separately, said the MND, without elaborating.

In September, the HDB had also announced the $450 million Lift Enhancement Programme to co-fund the town councils’ costs of retrofitting older lifts with safety features and enhancements”

So many more grants, but not less S&CC?

Don’t you find it rather strange that the Government is apparently doing so much to help residents (“increase the S&CC operating grants”, “additional grants to match part of the town councils’ contributions to their lift replacement fund”, “$450 million Lift Enhancement Programme to co-fund the town councils’ costs of retrofitting older lifts with safety features and enhancements”) – and yet at least 14 per cent of the S & CC paid by the residents must still go into the sinking fund?

Isn’t it logical that the more the Government gives – the lesser should be the financial burden on the residents?

80 to 100% of accumulated surplus transfer to sinking fund after elections?

In this connection, under Section 34 of the Town Council Act, when a different party takes over a town council after an election, 100% (80% if the same party wins) of the accumulated operating surplus has to be transferred to the sinking fund.

This in effect, deprives the residents of the accumulated surplus for operating expenditure in the future. Why would any Parliament pass such legislation on town councils? Isn’t it time for us to review this legislation, as it may only further burden residents with even higher S&CC then otherwise?

 

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