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Govt announces water price increase; hawkers contemplate hiking food prices – Singapore News

“If the government wants to raise the price, we have no choice. If we can’t accept it next year, we will raise (the price),” one hawker says

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SINGAPORE: The Government’s decision to increase water prices incrementally over the next two years has reportedly prompted hawkers across the island to consider raising their food prices, as water costs constitute a vital portion of their operating expenses.

In a joint statement on Wednesday (27 Sept), the Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment and the Public Utilities Board revealed the water price hike schedule. Starting from April 1, 2024, the water price per cubic meter will undergo a two-stage increase. Initially, the price will rise by 20 cents to reach $2.94 on April 1, 2024. The second increment is scheduled for April 1, 2025, when the price will rise by 30 cents, culminating at $3.24 per cubic meter.

To mitigate the financial burden on low- and middle-income families arising from rising water prices and other living expenses, the government plans to launch additional financial assistance measures. Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Lawrence Wong is set to provide further details on these initiatives today.

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In response to this adjustment, several hawkers shared their concerns with Channel 8 news, expressing that they may have no option but to increase their prices to cope with the rising water costs. A beverage vendor at Clementi 448 Market and Food Center explained their predicament, acknowledging their lack of control over the government’s decision.

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They said, “If the government wants to raise the price, we have no choice. If we can’t accept it next year, we will raise (the price). The simplest way is to increase the price to cope with it.”

Another hawker who sells Chwee Kuehs emphasized that while customers often complain when prices rise, it becomes inevitable when they face adjustments in raw materials, goods, and water charges.

She pointed out, “If the difference is big and our expenses are too high, we may raise the price because we can afford everything. But if we can’t afford the things we sell, where will the money come from? Where will the income come from? Where will the wages come from?”

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Hawkers are calling for the government to extend its assistance to reduce their burden and prevent them from passing on additional expenses to consumers through price hikes.

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Water fees currently account for 2 to 3 per cent of operating costs for hawkers. Although this percentage may seem small, hawkers have already shouldered previous cost increases and may need to make further adjustments to the pricing of their dishes if they struggle to absorb yet another essential cost increase.

Additionally, it’s worth noting that the water consumption of coffee shops, often operated by hawkers, is significantly higher than that of households, which will undoubtedly amplify the financial strain on these business operators.

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