The following is a Facebook post by We want Minister Grace Fu to resign:
It was announced yesterday (17 Feb) that all 15 PAP town councils will be increasing their service and conservancy charges (S&CC) starting in 4 months’ time.
Note that the increase will come in 2 phases: one in Jun this year and another in Jun next year. Also note that the S&CC of all the market and cooked food stalls located in the 15 PAP TCs will also go up – which means, you can bet that your meat, vegetable and hawker food prices will likely be going up too!
The official line of the PAP TCs with regard to this increase is: “The increases are necessary for the town councils to keep up with rising costs associated with maintaining estates.”
In this regard, a blogger made a very valid observation. He advocated that PAP TCs should not increase their S&CC without first cutting down on wastage: “The town council has wasted hundreds of thousands of our S & CC in constructing meaningless signage which require regular maintenance as well as renaming exercises… It should not increase S & CC without first cutting down on wastage.”
The wastage, of course, also includes deep investment losses incurred by PAP TCs as discovered by the public not too long ago: “Just like thousands of Singapore investors who have lost money on failed Lehman-linked structured products, the Holland-Bukit Panjang Town Council may lose its S$8 million investment.” (CNA)
* “According to Creative Technology’s (CT) annual report, Holland-Bukit Panjang Town Council (HBPTC) was listed as one of the majority shareholders with 530,000 shares currently valued at about $3.2 million. I understand that CT’s share price from 2003 to 2007, has ranged from a high of $27.30 to it’s current price of $6.10 on 12 October 2007.” (Leong Sze Hian – The Online Citizen)
* “So what are the affected town councils doing about their losses? Are they exhausting all channels to recover as much of their outlay as possible or will they shrug it off as ‘bad luck’? The town councils seem unlikely to get a single cent back. The banks have made it clear they would only consider compensating ‘vulnerable’ retail investors, the same group the Monetary Authority of Singapore had directed the banks to pay attention to.” (TODAY)
* “Holland-Bt Panjang and Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Councils lost $12 million of their sinking funds in high-risk investments in Lehman Brothers’ Minibond Notes, DBS High Notes 5, Merrill Lynch’s Jubilee Series 3 Notes and Minibond Series 2 & 3. Six other PAP-run town councils also have exposure to Lehman Brothers. Hougang and Potong Pasir Town Councils managed by opposition MPs have no investment in such high-risk financial instruments.”
* “So now we know why PAP-run town councils are so on-the-ball in the collection of S&CC. Some of the high-handed measures practiced by PAP-run town councils are issuance of lawyers’ letters, dragging the lessees to Small Claims Court and seizure of lessees’ household effects if they are unable to comply with the Court’s Order.”
* “The town councils have been increasing conservancy charges year after year telling us that costs have risen. However, what really happened is that the sinking funds have been rising to such levels that PAP town councils get to play fund managers. I guess old habits die hard. The PAP has never felt good unless it is sitting on busloads of citizens’ money – when it comes govt reserves they have to build one far larger than what is necessary even as its citizens find it hard to make ends meet as they are squeezed to contribute to the govt’s coffers.”
* “Town councils are just mini-versions of the Singapore govt. The sinking fund is meant to provide maintenance for the housing estates with some buffer for emergencies. They are not meant to be so big that the town councils don’t know what to do and put them risky assets such as stocks and minibonds. Many families struggle to make ends meet and for many paying the conservancy charges can mean depriving the family of better food and clothing. From govt to town councils, the PAP squeezing just never ends.”
So, you decide if PAP TCs are justified to increase their S&CC which you and me will be paying.