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Cost of living Watch
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redbean



Joined: 07 Mar 2006
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Location: singapore

PostPosted: Mon Feb 10, 2014 2:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sonic Gear Ear Pump Studio Pro
I have never really promoted any products before. And I am going to promote this ear phone voluntarily, not being paid for it. I happened to be browsing around at Challenger and came across this beautiful headphone. I had seen many expensive ones but this one was really striking, if you like the awesome size of the ear piece which is in vogue. It looked so good, attractively designed and well made.
After looking at it for a while I returned it to the shelf. But I kept walking back to take a second and third look. I had no intention to buy anything. It was a very appealing piece of headphone. And the most appealing part was the price tag. It was likely to be the top model for Sonic Gear. I have used a pair of Sonic Gear table top for my computers and never regretted. It was great value for money.
Now this headphone was beckoning to me. Then I told myself, what the hell, it was only $39.90 before discount for members of Challenger. I must say I have several headphones and in ears and I absolutely do not need this piece of equipment.
I paid for it anyway, just to test out what it was going to be like compare to my Sony Studio Monitor which was a very good piece of headphone. And I don’t expect this less than $40 piece to be close to it in performance. Even if it is a few notches down, how to complain? It cost only a fraction of what I paid for my Sony.
I could not believe my ears when I plugged it into my system. It came very very close to my Sony. Unbelieveable! The sound quality is good enough for listening. The clarity and transparency. The bass was reasonable when the volume was pushed up. For $40, this is a great piece of headphone, and damn good looking too.
The headphone may not produce as good a sound on the mobile phone or a small pocket player. But once plug into a reasonably good system it comes to live.
It is worth many times the $40 I paid for. I thought I was just having fun throwing away $40 for a piece of toy. It was a pleasant surprise, and a headphone to keep and listen to. If you do not want to spend $300 or $400 for a branded phone, this is an excellent alternative.
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redbean



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PostPosted: Fri Feb 21, 2014 8:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Singapore’s soaring land prices ‘suicidal’ for developers
This is the title of a Bloomberg report on 20 Feb 14. ‘Billionaire developer Kwek Leng Beng said last year that skyrocketing prices and restrictive rules make buying residential land in Singapore ‘suicidal’. That hasn’t stopped international developers from rushing in.’
Now we know what is the major factor that is causing unusually high property prices. But it is ok, no problem, international developers are still rushing in to buy. This means that there are still a lot of profits to be made.
While the developers have a billionaire to speak for them on high land prices, is there anyone speaking for the home buyers when the home prices are skyrocketing to the stratosphere? Anyone bothers and care? Or is that a good thing, higher and higher property prices for the buyers, and they can sit on their profits after every purchase?
What we know is that property prices have shot up 2 or 3 times, (not 2 or 3% or 20 or 30%) over the last ten years. Why no one cries wolf? And now that the prices are holding steady or slipping by 1% only in a certain sector while the rest are still going up, and developers are crying foul, that prices are not going up fast enough?
What do you think? Are high property prices suicidal for the genuine home buyers?
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redbean



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PostPosted: Mon Feb 24, 2014 12:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Long winter for property market?
This is the headline of a report in the Mypaper today. It lamented that the hopes for some of the curbs to be removed did not materialized and the cold remains in propertyland. It said, ‘It was a letdown for property players, who were hoping to see policies such as the additional buyer’s stamp duty rolled back.’
Yes it is a letdown for the property players who had made a killing in the last few years. The property bull run lasted for more than 10 years and after a year of cooling measures when prices barely changed the property players are crying father and mother.
On the other side of the equation, ‘The non changing of the policies basically creates a buyer’s market for another one year or so…Serious buyers will be able to buy a property at a fair discount.’ Said Mohamed Ismail of PropNex.
Whose interests should the govt take care of first, the serious buyers that have been given the short end of the stick or the propery players that are gaming for more profits?
The fact is that even at today’s prices, the serious buyers are buying at a high with prices doubling or tripling for the last decades. What is another 10% or 15% fall in prices? I fully agree with Tharman’s decision not to remove any curbs as it is really too early to do so. The high prices only profit the speculators and hurt the serious home owners real bad. It also undercuts the quality of life when people are forced to buy smaller and smaller homes and paying more and more.
The policies for home buying must serve a national objective, the welfare of the people and the quality of life must be paramount. The drumming of property players must be the least of concern to a responsible govt that cares for the people.
What is this long winter shit?
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redbean



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PostPosted: Fri Feb 28, 2014 8:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A case for opulence
The mansion of Dr Michael Lim that was splashed across cyberspace and the media is a testament of the good life of our rich and famous. The scale of the mansion and the furnishing say that Dr Lim is very rich and living a very comfortable lifestyle that the heartlanders and even many private property owners could not dream of. This is the meaning of rich. Good for him and his success story.
In the 60s and 70s, the medical professionals were living well and many lived very well practicing their trades. The opulence in the class of Dr Lim’s was an exception though some did achieved that level of grandeur then. No medical professionals was complaining and people could afford doctors making home visits at very affordable fees.
And the best part, many medical services in govt hospitals and govt clinics could be had for free or for a song. There was no fear of unaffordable medical fees and no fear of getting sick and unable to pay for treatment. There was no fear of being bankrupt by a terminal disease. There was a nice balance between what the people can afford to pay for medical services and providing the medical professionals a good life. Many medical professionals could afford landed properties and the Mercedes Benzes.
Those were the good old days. Today we have medical insurances, the 3 Ms and now the 4th M in Medishield Life and the people are still living in fear of being struck by a serious illness that they cannot afford to have. Even minor outpatient treatments are not cheap and unaffordable to many. There is no such thing as FREE! What on earth is that thing called FREE medical services?
Today, medicine and medical services are all about money and how much to pay, and about affordability. And many are asking how did we arrive at this state of affair when medical fees are so prohibitive that you need so many fanciful schemes and insurance to try to make them affordable but still unaffordable to many? What have these things got to do with opulence?
Have we progressed or regressed in this life and death services that the people cannot do without? Several decades back we were looking in astonishment and awe at the excesses and abuses of western medicine and medical services. Today we walked right into the same trap and try to outdo the western medical industry in everything, especially the prohibitive cost of medicine and medical treatment. We never seem to want to avoid the same pitfalls of the outrageous medical practices of the west. We simply aped everything, lock stock and barrel, fearlessly doing what the west have been doing.
Would the Medishield Life help to reduce medical cost and the anxiety of the people? Would medical cost be really affordable or be as affordable as our property prices under the same definition of affordability preached by the govt? Or would Medishield Life help to increase and spread the level of opulence?
How did our medical cost get to be so expensive?
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redbean



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PostPosted: Sat Mar 01, 2014 10:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

How much an average Sinkie needs to live in Sin?
This is just a broad brush estimate on how much it would cost an average Sinkie to live here from birth to death, or the sum of money he needs to earn and to pay for the privilege of living in Sin City. It will only consider a few basic factors without going into nitty gritties of living.
For the first 25 years, it could range from $500k to a million to grow a child to an adult. The same amount would be needed from 65 to 80 or more during the golden years. These two phases of life will cost between $1m to $2m for each person.
For the duration of 25 years to 65, the working life, it will need something like $2.5m to $4.5m. At $1k pm for personal expenses, this will work out to about $500k for 40 years. Add in two children will be an additional $1m to $2m. The flat will cost between $500k to $1.5m. A car, at $100k per car for 10 years, it will cost $400k for 40 years.
Just using these simplified numbers, an average Sinkie will need $3.5m to $6.5m to survive in Sin for a period of 85 years. And assuming that the cost for the first 25 years is paid by the parents, it is still between $3m to $6m to get by. And where is the money coming from?
A Sinkie must make this sum in his 40 years of economically active life. This works out to be about $5k to $10k pm, using the minimum and maximum estimates. Any Sinkie earning less than $5k pm is likely to struggle all the way to survive, ceteris paribus.
Can you afford to live in Sin?
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redbean



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PostPosted: Wed Mar 05, 2014 8:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

World’s most expensive city!
We are the most expensive country in the world to live in. And we are trying to attract our citizens overseas to return to sink root here. I am wondering aloud if this is another wayang or for real. We are so expensive in two big ticket items, housing and cars. How are we going to tell our Singaporeans to come back home to live and work here when they have to pay a ransom just to get a roof over their head and a decent car to enjoy the good life? Or maybe the target group is the low earners that are eligible to buy HDB.
How are they going to tell them that when they returned, because of their higher incomes, they cannot buy public flats but pay a few millions to buy private properties? These overseas Sinkies are living in big houses, landed properties that cost less a HDB flat and owning cars that cost a fraction of a small Japanese car here. They could afford two or more cars in where they are living. Why would they want to trade their good life to live in the world’s most expensive city and pay a bomb for a tiny flat and a tiny car?
Are you people real? Are you people thinking? Are you people asking too much from the overseas Sinkies? Are you nuts? Or do you think they are nuts? Or maybe they are so excited to want to live in the world’s most expensive city.
A country that refuses to sell public housing to its own citizens for whatever silly reasons when housing prices are sky high is a SICK country run by sick people. Period.
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redbean



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PostPosted: Sat Mar 08, 2014 9:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Singapore the most expensive city? So?

What is the fuzz all about that Singapore is the most expensive city in the world? To me everything is fine and nothing changes, really. I still have my breakfast and whatever, dining in whatever chic joints that I fancied. My Lamborghini is still running fine and attracting all the attention that I need. If it feels jaded, I can always jump into my Ferrari for a change. So, what’s the big deal?

The cars are so cheap that I could buy a new one with my salary every month. The landed properties too are affordable, really, only a year or two years income will be enough to pay for one, with spare change.

The only thing that I am complaining is that the roads are too congested. They should raise the ERP charges to $20 a pass or even $50. And for those wannabes who cannot afford to buy a decent car, they should take public transport and stop hogging the roads by limping around at 90 kph on the expressway. They are real irritants and always seem to be blocking my right of way. Shitty drivers who think their little cheap sedans are a status symbol to show off on the roads.

Everything is so affordable here and nothing is expensive. I am very comfortable with my level of contentment without being complacent and lazy. Life is a bliss and for enjoyment, and this city just is about everything that I need. Oh, I am no big entrepreneur taking high risk with my investments. I am just an ordinary employee with a decent income to boot.

Now who is complaining?
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redbean



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PostPosted: Sun Mar 16, 2014 10:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A new dream, not owning a home
Nina Brown lost her townhouse to foreclosure due to recession. That was not the only house she lost, but another three. She now lives in a rented home. The American Dream of home ownership is crumbling. With recession, foreclosure, and more recession in the pipeline, more Americans are giving up on home ownership. This seems to be a new trend in the world’s biggest economy.
Could this be something that Sinkies would be looking forward to, renting their homes instead of home ownership, though some are saying that we have been renters all the time, at least 80% of them living in HDB 99 year leasehold flats? This is another story.
At the moment many are still in the property speculation game when money makes money and lots of money without having to work. Would the same outcome in America hits us the same way when a major recession comes along? Would our young and new home owners, with their massive debt from housing loans ended like Nina Brown, facing foreclosure and become the statistics of a new fad, renters?
We are following closely at the heels of the Americans in everything they do. When they got a cold, we will surely have one as well. How long can we hold before the next wave of recession and foreclosure hits the City? The only way to avoid such a crisis is to push property prices higher and kick the can further down the road.
But if we are to listen to what came out of Parliament, the problem crisis is over and we should be congratulating the ministers and ourselves that all is well. No longer a problem, all problems solved. In fact it is time to raise the prices of properties or else the developers would start to kpkb again.
What do you think?
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redbean



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PostPosted: Mon Mar 24, 2014 10:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The virtuous cycle of fee hikes
Sinkies are blessed with a very generous govt that despite the its policy against a welfare state when giving money freely to the people is frowned upon, the govt is always there to help the people whenever there is a fee hike. Fee hikes of any form or nature will always be accompanied by the govt giving more subsidies to help the people to defray the rising fees.
The latest tuition fee hikes in universities and polytechnics again sees the govt coming out with more subsidies and grants to help the people. During his budget speech last month, DPM Tharman announced that the government will provide more support to more students for bursaries. The per capita monthly household income threshold will be raised from $1,700 to $1,900. This will cover students from two-thirds of all Singaporean households, he said. Thus only one third of all Singaporean households will be affected by the higher fees.
University undergraduates from the lowest one-third of households will see their bursaries increase to from S$2,900 to S$3,600 a year. Bursaries for middle-income students will be S$2,600 – this is an increase from S$2,150.
Polytechnic and Institute of Technical Education (ITE) students from middle-income households will also get more support. ITE bursaries for lower-income students will be higher than their fees, helping them defray living expenses, he said.
This is the virtuous cycle created by the govt, raise fees, raise subsidies, people pay new and higher fees with the subsidies, and the higher revenue goes back to the govt? Even if it does not go back to the govt directly, it still goes back to somewhere while the subsidies given to the people will just slip through their hands and disappeared just as quickly as they received it.
This is a very nice formula to tell the people that the govt is helping them with the rising cost and would guarantee that the people would always be grateful to a kind, compassionate and generous govt. It keeps on giving and taking and giving and taking and the people will not feel the pain if there is any.
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redbean



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PostPosted: Thu Jun 12, 2014 8:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Huffington Post: Is Singapore the perfect country of our time?
‘You land at Changi Airport after flying for what seems a lifetime, and you're naturally disoriented, even before you hit the customs booths that feature bowls of mints, dire warnings about the death penalty for those bringing in drugs, and digital comment cards asking if the service was to your liking. Duck into a public restroom and you'll be exhorted to aim carefully and to "flush with oomph" for the sake of cleanliness. Outside, it's tropical sticky but impeccably clean, in a city inhabited by Chinese, Malays, Indians, and a multiplicity of guest workers from around the world -- all speaking English.’
My simple answer to this poser is yes, Singapore is the perfect country for the English speaking rich. You can live here, feel very at home, and flaunt your wealth in perfect safety and do as you please minus the small irritation of no gum chewing, and no drugs. If you can live with these two minor misgivings, Singapore is the perfect city to live in.
And the best part, it is going to be better and better, provided you can afford the convenience and luxury of peace, safety and stability at a price. Not many can afford it, not even the millionaire citizens. Many would be here for the last time, downgrade, have a good fling with life until their last dollar is spent and off to another paradise. Their children would have to find their own way except for the scions of the very rich.
Everything is superbly fine in Singapore. The only thing rotting is the core. The Singaporean core, the original people that built this wonderful city, will shrivel and eventually cough out like the stone of a plum. The new core, assuming that they are just as good, will take their place so that this unbelieveable city of prosperity and opulence will go on and on.
Even the CPF scheme is designed that way though not spoken. The average citizens can only enjoy their wealth by trading their citizenships that allowed them to withdraw their lifesavings. This would allow them to be rich in a cheaper country of their choosing. If they stay put, many would not be able to afford the high cost of living when a cheap small car would cost $100k, and a cheap 3 bedroom public flat would cost nearly half a million Sing$. A private apartment of the same size would cost a million easily and treatment for a major illness will cost more than the price of a 3 bedroom flat. This is small change for the super rich but would bankrupt the average citizens.
Yes, Singapore is the perfect place to be in, for those who can afford it when a few hundred thousand dollars are small change, when paying $10 daily for ERP is small change.
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redbean



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PostPosted: Sat Jun 28, 2014 12:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Medishield Life - Monthly Premiums (2019)

According to a table presented by Channel News Asia titled, Medishield Life – Monthly Premiums (2019), Singaporeans are classified under four categories by income. These are Low Income for those earning $1,100 and below, Lower Middle Income, $1,101 to $1,800, Upper Middle Income, $1,801 to $2,600 and Upper Income for those earning above $2,600.

The table is based on per capita income and very likely to assume that each household has two working adults or two incomes. It is very generous and a compliment to claim a household income of $5,200 as belonging to Upper Middle Income. At $5,200, many are struggling to own a car or to live comfortably if they have two school going children, and hopefully don’t have parents to look after. For a household with only one income, a $2,000 household income is barely above subsistence level or just above the poverty line for a family of four.

To make the classification less realistic, put them in comparative terms like poor, average, rich and very rich. I don’t think anyone will agree that a household income of $3,600 to $5,200 can be considered as rich. So is a household income of more than $5,200 as very rich, Upper Class. Ok, Upper Income is not necessarily upper class.

I am wondering what they have in mind or which country’s standard of living are they referring to. It cannot be for Singapore to call someone as very rich or Upper Class/Income if the household income is a paltry $5,200. A $5,200 household income of four is the new poor in this super expensive island.

What do you think?
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redbean



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PostPosted: Wed Dec 17, 2014 8:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Property Tax is a wealth tax
‘Property tax is a wealth tax, levied on property ownership.’ This is the reply from Kelly Wee, Director(Corporate Communications), Inland Revenue in her letter in the ST forum on 15 Dec. She was responding to complaints by the public about the property tax levied on HDB owners. This tax on HDB properties is now subject to a lot of public criticism as many now realized that they are but 99 year lessees. And this is not the same as 99 lessees of private properties when the latter assumed full ownership of the property during the lease with very few restrictions and no need to pay a cut to HDB when the property is sold.
The HDB ownership is cumbersome and comes with many restrictions that remind the HDB ownerships who is the real and ultimate owner. Just believe whatever you want to believe, as owners or lessees.
Property tax as a tax on the wealth of the people becomes questionable for many reasons. On face value, a HDB flat is temporary wealth on short term. In the long run, when the lease expires, it is no longer wealth. Its value is zero. Where is the wealth? Can the HDB owners ask for refund on the tax paid when the wealth is gone?
Many HDB owners are occupants of their flats. They live there for their whole life, a home, a roof over their heads. If not there is no where else to go. Other than those that rent out the flats, the only benefit is the right to live in the flats.
Compare this with private properties. These are real wealth and very big wealth. If the govt is taxing on the wealth of the people, why aim at the poor HDB owners or lessees, particularly the smaller HDB flats? Many could barely afford to pay for them. And the problem will get increasingly problematical to the retirees without an income, and still got to squeeze out whatever little savings left to pay for property tax.
Why is there no tax on the filthy rich when there is real wealth, horrendous wealth, in their estates? Why is the govt so quick in abolishing estate duties to free the very rich from paying anything from their rich estates? Are the estates of private properties in the millions and hundreds of millions not wealth? And taxing on the poor HDB flat lessees with an expiring lease as wealth? Many of the private properties and estates are freehold or 999 year lease, the real wealth, and not taxable under estate duties. Is this a case of taxing the poor and freeing the super rich from taxes?
GST is to help the poor? How many believe this story or agree to the logic of this story?
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redbean



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PostPosted: Tue Dec 30, 2014 8:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

High cost of living undermining family formation
Childcare fee is now averaging around $800 and would be $1,000 next year. Some childcare centres are quoting $1,500 per child. This means a two child family with children in childcare centres would need to cough out $3,000 just for the basic childcare fees. How much more would the family need to provide for the living expenses of two children in a household. And how much would the family need for the full household expenses of two working adults, to provide a roof over their heads, not mentioning a family car.
An average two child family would still be trying to make ends meet with a $6,000 monthly income. It is time to stop listening to fools who are claiming that $1,000 income can buy a 2 rm HDB flat or enough to live on. Stop spreading lies as the total living cost for a family is much more than $1,000 and this sum is unbearable, below subsistence or poverty level in this most expensive or one of the most expensive city in the world.
High cost of living is not a joking matter. Even an average family with a $6,000 household income would be greatly stressed and in debt if misfortune hits, like a major illness for one member of the family, or if one member loses his/her job to a foreigner.
How could an average family afford to live comfortably with anything less than $5,000, without financial worries like a blade hanging over their heads, to even dare to have two children? And all the cocks are yelling at the Singaporeans to have more babies to help the economy, to provide workers for the economy. Is this a reasonable call? Are they going to provide for the living expenses of the children? Just childcare fee is enough to break a family’s small income.
How many parents are so irresponsible to think of having more than one baby if they have a household income of less than $6,000? What kind of life would they be living when more than 50% of their hard earned income would go straight to paying childcare and much more to bring up two children? And there are people complaining that $100k a month income is not enough for their family to live well. And can they expect people to live decently with less than $5,000 and to have two children to raise?
What is going on? For the super talents with more than $10k or $20k income or more, paying $3,000 monthly for childcare is bearable when there are a lot of spare cash for other things of comfort. For many average Singaporeans, please, they are not daft and they know the sums. Not having baby is the logical and responsible choice when the cost of living is so high.
Did I hear the cocks crowing? $1,000 or $2,000 is enough to raise a family and have children to contribute to the economy?
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 13, 2015 8:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

No poverty in Singapore?

The issue of poverty is a very sensitive one in one of the world’s richest city state with the highest percentage of millionaires. How can there be poverty when there are no beggars, or the poor here are better off than the poor elsewhere? How then does one define poverty or being poor? Theoretically, a person with a $1000 pm income could buy a 2 rm public flat. How can that be poor? The assumptions that after paying for the flat he would still have enough to get by, feed a family and children going to school. If this is the bottom line, the number of poor in Singapore must be very low indeed.

Professor Tommy Koh wrote a recent article stating that 30% of the population are poor. He is now embroiled in a debate with the MOE on the scale of poverty among students. Though the data quoted were complex and not everyone is in agreement, the bottom line is that how many are poor or living below the poverty line.

The next question is where is the poverty line? In Singapore there is no poverty line. So how can there be poor when there is no poverty line. Tiok. The next question, why is there no poverty line? The answer and I quote, ‘Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing had previously refused to define an official poverty line for fear of a "cliff effect" even though it is not known what this meant.’

If you choose to put on blinkers, the world is a tunnel. If one chooses to read only fairy tales, the world is so airy fairy. Are there people struggling to live on their small income and bordering on poverty or living below the poverty line? Deaf frogs, blind frogs or blinkered frogs, all have a different view on this issue.
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 22, 2015 8:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hng Khiang: Singapore will benefit from lower oil prices
This must be true. How can it not be went the cost of oil goes down and industries paying for lower oil cannot benefit from it? SIA is a big beneficiary of low oil prices. All transportation companies using oil as fuel will have lower operating cost which will translate to higher profit margin. Taxi operators, bus and train operators. School buses, heavy industries that uses oil and electrical power must also enjoy big savings.
On a personal basis, car owners must by paying must lower petrol prices at the pump. I can vouch for that as my petrol bill is coming down. And surely train and bus commuters must also be direct beneficiaries of lower oil prices.
Everyone must be waiting eagerly for bus and train fares to fall. Petrol companies have been slow but eventually have to lower pump prices. Just wait, the bus and train companies are slow but the prices must come down. This has proven not to be with this morning’s announcement that public transport fares will rise by 1 ot 10 cents.
I think it will need a super genius to explain why bus and train fares must go up when oil prices gone down by almost 50%. And it would need an exceptional idiotic people to believe the reasoning is sensible and logical. It can only happen in a country where the leaders are gifted with super intelligence and the people are so daft that they would believe and accept every disingenuous reasons coming from the leaders. And the leaders knew they could get away with it and the people would not be able to do anything about it, not even voting them out of the govt. Because the leaders knew that the people idolized them and wanted them to be the rulers come what may.
And some people are very happy with the increases, especially those that are not taking public transport or are high income earners. What is a few cents? See the commuters are benefitting from lower oil prices by having lower fare hikes.
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what i posted is just my personal view. feel free to disagree.
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