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Consider social, economic impact of satellite ERP

Editor-at-large Han Fook Kwang aptly pointed out that we may be putting the technology cart before the policy horse ("Satellite-based ERP: Great technology but what's the policy?"; last Sunday).

There are two hidden costs - economic and social - should the Land Transport Authority implement this new Electronic Road Pricing technology for distance-based charging islandwide. On the economic side, there is the risk of profiteering. To draw an analogy, during the recent oil boom, prices of goods, including petrol and transport, went up. But when oil fell to a low price, prices were not reduced correspondingly.

In this way, distance-based charges could lead to inflation.

On the social front, non-profit organisations which regularly use vehicles to transport beneficiaries with disabilities may see their running costs increase. As a result, community events may not be so well-attended, and those with disabilities may not be able to meet as often.

There are many more negative scenarios that could arise.

I am all for the technology, which is great and could put us in the forefront in managing congestion.

However, I urge the Government to consider the economic and social costs before implementing the new system.

Rodney Neo

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 20, 2016, with the headline 'Consider social, economic impact of satellite ERP'. Print Edition | Subscribe