Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, while at the official opening of the revamped Pang Sua Pond in Bukit Panjang on Saturday, said that the 30 per cent increase in water price, was "absolutely necessary", as water is a "scarce" resource and "not cheap to produce". This speech came as a response to the strong reaction of people after Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat announced the price hike.
"In retrospect, perhaps we should have spent more time explaining this before announcing the increase, then people wouldn't have been so surprised," said the prime minister, as reported by Channel News Asia.
According to the report, National water agency PUB is carrying out an investigation on various infrastructure like NEWater and desalination plants, pipelines and sewage treatment plants. "If the water tariffs are not enough to pay for these, PUB would still have to build all this, and we would still have to pay for this. But instead of paying for it through the water tariff, we would have to pay for it through our taxes and I think it's fairer to pay for it through the water tariff. Those who use the water pay for the water, rather than from general taxes and we use the GST or your income taxes, or your car taxes to pay for water," added Lee.
The Singaporean leader further said that as the economy grows, the country will need more water. Moreover, as climate change will get severe more pressure will fall on the existing water sources and its availability is bound to become erratic, he said. Singapore draws more than half of its water from Linggiu Reservoir. However, in recent months, water levels there hit record lows.
"We've got to treat water very, very seriously. It's one of the things which Mr Lee Kuan Yew used to be obsessed with. Right from the beginning and right to the end of his life, and as a nation we have to maintain this attitude towards water", said Mr Lee, as reported.
"We've got water security now because of our obsession. And by keeping this focus, we can stay secure into the future. If we ever let water become a vulnerability for Singapore, I think we will all be in very serious trouble," he added.
Roughly around 3,000 residents gathered to mark the revamp, which cost S$6.8 million, took more than two years to complete and was an initiative under PUB's Active, Beautiful, Clean Waters programme.