Govt control of prices needed in some areas

The better-off people in Singapore will not notice or feel the rising prices of daily consumables, and how they have crept up slowly but inexorably. But middle-income earners definitely are troubled by this creeping inflation that is outpacing their income revisions.

Yet, justifiable slow increases in prices are something we have to accept.

While no one should hold the extra 10 or 20 cents hawkers charge for a cuppa against them, I do not agree with Mr Francis Cheng that the Government should not step in to control prices in a free market (Consumers can vote with their feet for fairer-priced coffee; April 17).

If the Government had not stepped in, Singapore would have had runaway property prices and public transportation fares.

With regulation of car ownership, traffic is commendably smooth, compared to countries where the authorities have adopted a hands-off approach.

Government intervention to fix and control prices in these instances is deemed proper and appropriate.

So I am baffled as to why similar intervention in medical fees is deemed anti-competitive and illegal.

Medical fees have doubled, trebled and even quadrupled - far more than inflation would have warranted. Over-servicing for padded margins has now become commonplace.

With runaway healthcare prices, even the healthy are affected, as everyone is in the same insurance pool and premiums soar.

Consumers can vote with their feet at coffee shops, but not when it comes to their healthcare.

Yik Keng Yeong (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 19, 2017, with the headline 'Govt control of prices needed in some areas'. Print Edition | Subscribe