TODAY: Cheaper transport on WP’s wish list

THE Workers’ Party (WP) yesterday sent its birthday wishes to the nation – and a brief wish list to the Government.

In a “National Day address” released to the media, the party “reflect(ed)” on the applications by transport operators to raise fares due to rising diesel prices.

The WP pointed to ComfortDelGro’s and SMRT’s respective net earnings of about $200 million and $100 million last year, and asked if the operators considered passing the benefits of lower Certificates of Entitlement (COEs) for taxis to the commuting public.

The Opposition party argued that public transport should not be profit driven or listed.

“This is so that these operators do not have the anticipated pressure by shareholders, largely government-linked companies, to produce increasing returns on investments and quarterly profits,” wrote the WP in its address.

It asked the Government to ensure that the operators serve primarily “the interests of public commuting needs and not only the shareholders”.

The party also questioned if proposed changes in the foreign worker policies were enough to enable Singaporeans to compete on an even keel with foreign workers.

Next year, the Manpower Ministry will raise the levy to moderate the demand for foreign workers while allowing the service sector to hire more such workers to give businesses more flexibility.

Said the WP: “The management’s challenge is to extract maximum productivity from the cost of labour. Are we giving employers an easy way out by allowing them more access to cheaper foreign workers?”

It asked for a “more satisfactory solution” to raise the salaries of the lower income group and repeated its call in May for Cabinet ministers to “benchmark their performance on their ability to uplift the conditions” of Singaporeans in the bottom 20 per cent of income earners.

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