Be mindful of ramifications of carpark rate hikes

Businesses have constantly been encouraged to improve productivity as a means of cost-cutting. Is the same being done in managing public carparks ("Public parking gets costlier"; last Friday)?

This aside, the Government needs to be mindful of the issues pertaining to car ownership, and the ramifications of car-related cost increases. These include:

•Singaporeans' aspiration in owning a car. Most aspire to own a car, for whatever reasons best known to themselves, and it is not for us to judge. For the Government, it is imperative to strike a fine balance between fulfilling this aspiration and the need to discourage car ownership, given our limited space.

•The ramifications of increasing carpark rates. A carpark rate hike cannot be viewed in isolation, as it has wide-ranging ramifications on many facets of our lives. These include the increased cost of doing business, with this being invariably passed on to consumers; less disposable income for car owners, which can affect retail businesses; and hardship for those in instances where owning a car is a necessity.

•The motivation to trade car ownership with public transportation. The Government should continually explore constructive ways to encourage and motivate people to replace car ownership for public transportation. However, punitive measures are not the solution. Despite the high cost of owning a car, owing to depreciation, car-loan interest servicing, car maintenance, repairs, road tax, insurance and inspection, many people are still not ready to give up their cars. An efficient and convenient public transport system can change this. There is already some measure of success but more needs to be done.

It is naive to assume that free parking motivates multiple-car ownership ("Levy HDB rates or higher to park on private estate roads" by Mr Aaron Ang Chin Guan; Monday).

In any case, private estate roads are public roads and are used frequently by public-housing residents when they visit their parents, relatives and friends, or patronise shops in the vicinity. These roads were never meant for the sole use of private-estate residents.

Discriminating against private residential estates smacks of a culture of envy, and must be discouraged.

Lawrence Loh Kiah Muan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 06, 2016, with the headline 'Be mindful of ramifications of carpark rate hikes'. Print Edition | Subscribe