Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Too Good For Miracles

A miracle is a rare event often attributable to divine intervention. For agnostics or atheists at large, a miracle can also be thought of as a perceptible interruption of the laws of nature.

The Train Miracle
The new fancy MRT signalling system has not been installed. The new trains on order won't be delivered until umpteen years down the road. Yet, inspite of these supposedly insurmountable encumberances, train waiting times managed to be shaved to an average 3 minutes. By simply tweaking the train schedule! The SMRT is adding more than 260 extra trips ahead of the December festive period, reducing the North-South Line wait at Yishun to 3 minutes, and the East-West Line wait from 6 to 4 minutes. Now why didn't they think of that before?

The Hospital Miracle
The project completion date was advanced not by 2 weeks, or 2 months. We are told, via Minister for Health Gan Kim Yong's blog, the new hospital at Sengkang will be on stream 2 whole years ahead of schedule - from 2020 to 2018! The last time a construction schedule was abbreviated so significantly was when the Marina Bay Sands Casino Resort was rushed into service to expedite collection of the $100 entry levy.

Two miracles in a row, it's almost enough to turn anyone into a religious convert. But just before you start believing again, they hit you with a property tax whammy. Just when inflation is about to knock your breath out following world wide forecasts of a gloomy future.

With home prices expected to fall 30 to 40 per cent over the next three years, Singapore's developers are already bracing for a moribund market and expect to take a hit in first-quarter earnings. The rebound they hoped for is turning out to be the stuff of dreams.

The Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) has decreed that 4- to 5-room HDB flat owners will have to pay $5 to $29 more property tax from 2012 onwards. Their justification is that property prices have been on the increase in the past years, without paying heed to what the doomsday sayers portend about the imminent future. Perhaps that's why they want to stiff you now, before the bubble bursts, and make them look silly for asking more money then. Adding insult to injury, they once again offer a one-off token rebate of $55, good for limited time only, while the hike will be in place for perpetuity. You expecting the IRAS will ever reduce the Annual Values (AV)? That would be a real miracle indeed.


  1. Singapore has a very unusual property tax regime for owner occupied home? That is you can stay in your own home forever but the property tax that you pay is affected by the rental market so when many foreigners rush into Singapore to rent and the rental goes up, you as a home owner will pay more property tax as your home deemed annual value which reflect what rent your home could fetch has gone up. So sometimes I wish for a recession!

  2. There is no miracle in Singapore, just civil servants sleeping on their jobs or stubborn to change. By telling people that they are able to shorten the waiting time for MRT and speeding up the completion of hospital, just prove that the previous management could not care to find ways to ease the transport woes, despite all the complaints. Will these people be punished? I doubt so.

  3. I was hoping that another miracle will happen his May, that is 2 GRCs falling to the opposition. Too bad it did not happened, then policies/adjustments will be done a little bit different now. We will have to wait till 2016.

  4. Exactly, once they have increased the annual values of our property, they never seem to revise it downwards when we are at the bottom of a property slump.

    The same with oil prices when they are at their lowest cycle, they don't seem too eager to reduce the rates accordingly for petrol, electricity, MRT, bus & taxi fares, etc.

    When we have a Govt that also happens to have vested interests in public transport businesses, WTF is our PAP Ministers doing about it ? Nothing .... because their bonuses are dependent on it ?

    Does it take a miracle to kick out our PAP Govt ?

  5. The "MRT miracle" will be rolled back after CNY, when the holiday season dies down. The increase in train schedule is merely to target the extra holiday shoppers and tourists during this time of year --- i.e. collect more money. After people go back to their daily grind in Feb, SMRT and SBSTransit will scale back to cut costs and maintain fat profit margins.

    As for HDB property tax, how come lessees have to pay the tax? The true owners of HDB flats are HDB and govt --- they hold onto the legal strata and land titles to the HDB blccks. HDB lessees do not have any strata title or any title deed at all, even after fully paying off their mortgage. Property tax should be paid by owners, in this case it is HDB/govt.

  6. Exactly! Only owner needs to pay Property Tax and not the tenant. High time government relook at this issue and call a spade a spade.

  7. Our government is a master of kiasuism. They also tilt things in their favour. No exception when it comes to money-matters. It is precisely because they anticipate that they have to pay out money later that they are collecting the funds now. That way, when the economic downturn comes, they can play the hero and saviour and have everyone singing their praises.

  8. Error in post 1:01: "always" instead of "also".

  9. If the Govt needed to raise revenue, why did it abolish estate duty on people who realy afford to pay, in the first place?
    Wouldn't monies from them be more than enough to
    cover the increased property tax to be collected from the rest?
    This Govt is really playing Robin Hood in reverse

  10. Estate duty was abolished when Mrs Lee became fully bedridden and clear that her time was short. Coincidence? Anyway she died without having to pay estate duty, and so the world couldn't know how much assets she had. Don't forget that for many decades their family law firm Lee & Lee was the one and only law firm receiving the 1 million HDB flats' conveyancing fees.

  11. It is not true that they don't collect estate duty. The amount given examption has gone up to $6m. The reason is simple, try not to anger the rich but tax the poor!

  12. There are no miracles. They are all make-believe miracles.
    They create the false demand first, then justify for price increase, then come back with the supply that has always been there.
    Wake up Singaporeans. For those who say if you don't like choice a, take choose choice b or c, the reality is you're the boiling frog. There's really no choices.

  13. So long as the PAP is in power, there will be real miracles. I remember LKY saying he will rise from his grave to rectify a prodigal government.
    "If the Govt needed to raise revenue, why did it abolish estate duty on people who realy afford to pay, in the first place?" Just like they raise their salaries of Ministers - all done for the benefit of Sinkies so that their mothers, sisters and daughters will not be maids in Indonesia or Philippines! But the greatest real miracle will be the people booting out the PAP from power.

  14. Another miracle was the cancellation of TV/radio license fee. It takes a lot of courage to cancel this license fee and perhaps to adjust any taxes and fees downward. It is much easy to adjust them upward so that the persons doing so will also see their own paycheck grow accordingly.

    The ultimate issue is that this is not an accountable and transparent government. Only a handful of those elites in power will decide the faith of the people. The 3-4 millions natives have absolutely no say on any policy. Calling for public comments and participation are mostly if not all wayangs.

  15. Now that the May 2011 Election is over not long ago, if they don't take this chance to increase what they want to increase, they're going to miss the golden opportunity. Never mind that economy is going to slow down, is none of their business, because they're not going to care about this. They let you get angry with them, curse them. But wait when the next election is approaching, they will suddenly 'change' into a very considerate and compassionate person by 'giving' you something back or make some cosmetic decrease to 'bribe' you. This pattern or cycle has been repeated again and again.

    Reminds me of the story behind a Chinese proverb about a man feeding 3 fruits to each monkey during the day and 2 fruits in the evening and needless to say, the monkeys get so angry. To cope with this anger, the man then switch to feed 2 fruits to each monkey in the day time and then 3 fruits at evening time and the monkeys during this time round were so happy. But in the end, there are no change at all in the total amount of fruits that each monkey eat.

    So, we're just being treated like those monkeys by the people in power