SP Services Increased Electrical Tariff when Natural Gas Price is at 10 Year Low

The hot topic in Singapore now is yet another increase in electric tariff starting from today 1 April 2012. If this is SP Service's idea of an April Fool's joke, the Singaporean Humor Index has dipped another notch. I'll like to join in the crowd and rant just like the rest today. But before that I'll like to take everyone for a little walk in the memory lane as it's well known that Singaporeans have short memories. 

In the last quarter of 2008, Mr Raymond Lim, then the Minister of Transport of Singapore told the public some cool stories. First he conjured some figures somewhere and declared that, to make Singapore public transport system completely free for Singaporeans, we needed to increase our GST by 1.5 percent. I was not doing this blogging thing in 2008 but I remembered telling a friend if I was an attendee in that forum where Raymond Lim was spurting his nonsense, I would have stood up, clapped and challenged Lim to carry out free public transport and increase GST by 1.5%.

By 2012, that would have reaped rich dividends because on a free public system, there will not be anymore increase in bus fare almost every year.

In the same forum, Mr Lim offered an even more ridiculous theory in an attempt to rubbish the suggestion of "public transport fares are linked with oil prices" as he was asked why fares are not decreased in tandem as oil price has dropped drastically at that period. 

In his own words he said,

"...Because the public transport fare, is not directly linked to the oil prices. Not linked. We linked it to.... national factors ... like the inflation level of Singapore and the wage level in the whole of Singapore." [link]

What has this got to do with the latest electric tariff increase? Isn't the whole situation a mirror image?

PTC - fare increase
EMA - tariff increase
Ambiguous answers, half hearted lip services, things remain as un-transparent as ever.

You can give them any name you like. Whatever board, whatever council, whatever committee. What good of these if all they do is to give the nod whenever someone present some figures that seemed to tally up? What good are these if they fail to protect the interests of the commoners each time. If this is a game of soccer, no one will be hiring these folks as the goalkeeper. That - I'm pretty confident. Because everything goes past them.

Ok, let's give EMA a chance. A visit to their website yield this chart: [source]

Apparently electricity tariff is mainly affected by 2 factors. "Fuel cost" and "non-fuel cost". I noticed EMA likes to play around with this. When someone question about fuel cost, they'll bring out non-fuel cost as also a major deciding factor to the tariff. Vice versa.

This time though, EMA cited fuel cost as the deciding factor for the latest increase in electricity tariff. They'll remind you though of course, not to look at the 'live' price because SP Services calculates the tariff based on the price of fuel in the last quarter. Thus, this diagram:

Whatever it is. Look at your own bills. Did SP Services increase a good 30% in your electricity tariffs over the last 6 years? I bet it did. 

Referring to their good chart again, "non fuel costs" seemed to be stable since 2010. So the only reason this time must be "fuel costs" right? Let's look at EMA's explanation of fuel price on their website:

"While Singapore's electricity is mainly generated from imported natural gas, the prices of natural gas (which are determined by commercial contracts) are indexed to fuel oil prices. This is the market practice in Asia for natural gas contracts. Hence, if the prices of fuel oil increase by 10%, natural gas prices would also increase by 10%."

Now let's look at facts:

Now the questions:

1) Who is in charge of importing our gas? While the rest of the world is enjoying a 10 year low price, we seemed to be buying gas from another planet. And this special gas price ended up translated to increased in tariffs to people on the streets. Are we going to find out if there is 'import related cost" soon? We'll love to know. Tell us the story EMA.

2) If EMA claims to be transparent, why can't they display 'live' price update on the index that SP Service is using so that every commoner can check the current price against all the fuel price statistics anyone could get on the internet for free? They can't afford the web development? EMA, if you really can't, tell me. I'll personally get volunteers to help you finish the project.

3) Why are we still allowing a monopoly in this industry? Please, you can change names, privatise, publictised, whatever. There is still no valid fair competition for business as well as rights for consumers. In the place, we have EMA who does 'fucko', the way we say it here.

4) If we are to forced a monopoly down our throats, why bother to set up EMA? We might as we shut down the entire organisation to save cost. Guess where did the money come from to pay all the people working in EMA ? Yes. Us again, the taxpayers. Shut it down and save us some money. If EMA says what they used to regulate tariffs is simply "a formula", then that's about all we need. The public shall be the auditors as long as 2) is set up. Remove EMA.

5) Mr Raymind Lim lost his job as an incapable transport minister. Lui Tuck Yew, the current transport minister of Singapore stepped in and announced no further increase in public transport fares until the "fare formula is reviewed", a move seemingly more powerful than the uncontrollable worldly rates of fuel or gas. I wonder if anyone is stepping in this time to stop electricity tariff increase. Are you listening? Do YOU still want your job?


  1. You've described partially the Achilles heel of Singapore's growth.

    If the gas price (which alot of people including me are expecting it to happen.. by 2013 or end of this year) that EMA buys is tied to price of oil (POO), we will be very very helpless if POO goes to US$150 and higher.

    At that time our urban society which runs on a "Just In Time" dynamics will no longer function properly.

    When that happens, it's not a matter of which minister has failed us.. or the excessive influx of FT. Those issues aren't important anymore.

    When that day comes, it is most important to work together as one, with your neighbors, with your loved ones, with the people nearest to you and with your community and survive.

    I would not describe this as a doomsday prophecy, but a circumstance that has a medium to high chance of happening and extremely high impact to people's daily lives.

  2. glad to see u back posting! nice article, now i need to do some reading!

  3. Without EMA, PTO, etc., the propaganda message won't work as well, tell me I am wrong!

  4. Haven't you gotten accustomed to their 'wayangs"??
    Nowadays, we can only take whatever increments that comes our way with a "f*#k men"... then life goes on.
    Forget about their cock and bull reasons...
    What can we do? We do not have an opposition that is able to govern the country, yet.. and the abled younger generations are dis-illusioned and leaving the country.

  5. who is EMA answerable to? which ministry regulates them? I know PTC and LTA fall under the Transport minister's purview.

  6. Apparently, Asian's natural gas is indeed priced differently from the U.S.:

    These 2 links are a little outdated but I believe the reasons behind the rise in last year have not abated. I am not sure why we have a different price but it seems like a combination of various reasons, some of which is not in the control of local governments:


    The report in the 1st link is not free and I'm not buying it :). The 3rd link is pretty long, I'm still reading...