"As of June this year, about 13,700 household have been put on pre-paid metering scheme...."
- Straits Times 29 Aug 2008
"" The minimum amount for topping-up is S$10 and the maximum is S$250. At every top-up, 20% of the top-up amount will be deducted to pay for the arrears and 80% of the top-up amount will be credited on the smart key." - SP Power Website
I don't know why other countries give the poor a subsidised utilities rate that they can afford with their lower wages when they can simply copy the PAP govt idea of pre-paid electricity. The idea is very simple - as Singapore Power increases its tariffs to preserve its profits, electricity becomes unaffordable for many Singapore families. The usual mantra is to blame the poor folks for using too much electricity and asking them to cut down. However, if after living in relative darkness at night, watching only 1 hour of TV and occasionally turning on their fans to beat the heat...they still cannot make ends meet and pay their electricity bill, Singapore Power will cut off their electricity rather than risk its profits. A meter will be installed at the person's home so that he can have electricity only after he pays up. So where does the person get the money to pre-pay for his electricity? I guess he can cut down on other things like food and transport.....the price of which has been raised to encourage them to use less.
Welfare is a dirty word....but reducing the profits of GLCs such as Singapore Power is even more forbidden. Those who talk about it deserve to be accused of engaging in the politics of jealousy. Singapore Power tells us that it needs to increase tariffs to preserve its profits because price of oil has been rising. The thing is Singapore's electricity is generated using natural gas whose price until recently has been fairly stable/flat however somebody signed a contract with the Indonesians to link the natural gas supplied to Singapore Power to the price of oil. Anyway cost has been increasing and they need to pass this on to Singaporeans. It is indeed important to keep Singapore Power profitable. How profitable is profitable? Singapore Power has made enough to acquire several Australian companies PowerNet and Alinta in multi-billion$ deals. Just imagine that Singapore Power makes enough from Singaporeans to acquire the major power suppliers in Australia a nation several times the size of Singapore. The profit that Singapore Power makes is not just enough to upgrade its power plants in Singapore but there is enough left for large overseas acquisitions. However, it doesn't seem to have enough to fund a low tarrif programmes for the poorest Singaporeans who have contributed to its profits over the decades.
Singaporeans should feel proud of our monopolistic GLCs. Unlike other countries which require similar companies to return excess risk free profits to the citizens, our GLCs have been able to use the money to grow overseas and create top jobs for the power elites in our society. When you fall on hard times and the Singapore Power man comes over to install the pre-payment meters at your home and you have no money to turn on the heater for your shower, remember that it is cold in Switzerland and that cold shower is one step closer to the Swiss standard of living the PAP promised to the people a few years ago.