Straits Times: WP criticises proposals to raise fares

THE Workers’ Party (WP) has criticised public transport operators for wanting to raise fares on buses and trains, saying they should not be profit driven.

Repeating the point it made at the General Election in May, it said: “Public transport operators, as the name suggests, should not be profit driven, let alone be listed.”

Its argument is that if they were not listed on the stock exchange, the companies do not have to face pressure from shareholders to produce increasing returns on investments and quarterly profits.

The opposition party made the point yesterday in its National Day statement published on its website. The statement was signed by WP’s treasurer Eric Tan and organising secretary Yaw Shin Leong.

Bus and train operators ComfortDelGro and SMRT have applied to increase fares by between one and three cents from October.

The WP said that while operators have blamed rising diesel prices for the proposed increase, listed operator ComfortDelGro posted net earnings of about $200 million last year and SMRT, about $100 million.

The party did not elaborate on how such companies should be run. But in its earlier election manifesto, it wanted trains and buses on trunk routes to be brought under a non-profit-oriented National Transport Corporation. The manifesto had proposed opening feeder bus services to individual private operators as well.

In its statement yesterday, the WP also voiced its opposition to the higher cab fares introduced last month. The flag-down rate rose by 10 cents to $2.50 and the peak-period surcharge doubled to $2.

The Government should come up with a better way for raising the salaries of the lower- income group and close the income gap, it said.

The opposition party argued that the new foreign worker policies and levy put the Singaporean worker at a great disadvantage and added: “Are we giving employers an easy way out by allowing them more access to cheaper foreign workers?”

It also expressed disappointment at Today newspaper’s suspension of blogger mr brown’s column last month, after the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts (Mica) had criticised its commentary on the high cost of living here.

Such “intolerance” is not evidence of an open society, and Mica’s response is “unbecoming”, it said and added: “While Mica has the right to rebut anyone, the Workers’ Party calls on our First World ruling regime to do so logically and with dignity.”

To its supporters, it pledged to continue to provide them with a “credible choice”.

Posted in 2006 08. Comments Off on Straits Times: WP criticises proposals to raise fares
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