Govt should walk the talk on clean wage policy

The revelation of MPs enjoying underpriced parking fees has raised eyebrows as, ironically, it goes against the clean-wage policy preached by the Government itself (Elected MPs pay $365 a year for HDB parking; June 26).

The rationale that MPs "do not park overnight or full day at their constituencies" and at Parliament House does not justify the subsidised parking fees.

Teachers also do not park overnight in schools, but they will be paying market rate parking fees soon (Parking fees for teachers to kick in from August; March 27).

Singaporeans usually pay $1.20 per hour at public carparks but MPs pay $365 for an annual permit. This boils down to about $1 for a day's worth of parking at their constituencies or Parliament House.

Based on simple calculations, it appears that this fee is underpriced as $1 a day amounts to only 50 minutes of parking at a public carpark.

Even at Housing Board carparks, people pay around $100 monthly for season parking. Technically, most people do not park their vehicles there for a full day either, assuming those with cars drive to work and are away for about 12 hours a day.

Moreover, parliamentary sittings are usually long and, with Parliament House located in the city where parking fees are high, the amount in subsidised parking enjoyed by MPs there is significant.

The problem is not about whether free or subsidised parking is justified for anyone.

The issue of the "hidden perks" that teachers and soldiers gained through free parking should not have even been brought up in the first place as it is not significantly detrimental to Singapore's economy.

But as it was raised and a can of worms has been opened, all eyes will be on the Government to reconcile the issue.

Sean Lim Wei Xin

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 30, 2018, with the headline 'Govt should walk the talk on clean wage policy'. Print Edition | Subscribe