Parking fees for teachers to kick in from August

The Ministry of Education took reference from Housing Board monthly season parking rates for non-residents to determine the market value of school carparks, said its spokesman.
The Ministry of Education took reference from Housing Board monthly season parking rates for non-residents to determine the market value of school carparks, said its spokesman.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

Same charges to apply for all schools and JCs, including independent schools

Teachers in primary and secon-dary schools, as well as junior colleges, will have to pay for parking from August.

Outdoor season parking will cost $75 a month during the school term, and $15 a month during the school holidays in June, November and December.

At sheltered carparks, teachers will pay $100 monthly during the school term, and $20 monthly during school holidays.

Motorcyclists will be charged $13 a month at uncovered carparks, and $2 during school holidays.

Sheltered parking fees will be $14 during the school term and $3 during school holidays.

Teachers were briefed by their school leaders yesterday on the introduction of carpark rates, imposed in line with the Public Service Division's "clean wage" policy, which stipulates that salaries are fully accounted for, with no hidden perks and privileges.

There are about 360 primary and secondary schools and junior colleges. Parking charges will be the same across all schools.

In response to queries from The Straits Times, the Ministry of Education (MOE) said it has been working with the Public Service Division and the Ministry of Finance to determine "an appropriate treatment for staff parking in schools".

"It has become increasingly clear that the current treatment of allowing school staff to park for free constitutes a taxable benefit, as the vast majority of school carparks are located near chargeable carparks, and the carparks are intended for the use of staff and authorised visitors, with no access given to the general public," said a spokesman.

The fact that teachers have never had to pay for parking in schools came under the spotlight in 2015 when an Auditor-General's Office report faulted some educational institutions for allowing their staff to park for free, or at fees below the market rate.

Such practices "are tantamount to providing hidden subsidies for vehicle parking", it had said in an annual report of financial lapses in public-sector bodies.

The MOE spokesman said it took reference from Housing Board monthly season parking rates for non-residents - $90 for unsheltered carparks and $120 for covered ones - to determine the market value of school carparks.

She added that the monthly rate during the school term is higher than during the holidays because demand for parking fluctuates significantly between the two periods.

The same charges will be implemented in independent and government-aided schools, including those on private land, to ensure "consistency and parity across schools", she added.

Teachers, who cannot be named as they are not authorised to speak to the media, said the announcement was not a surprise as paid parking had been a topic of debate in the last few years.

"We had been hearing rumours, and it is not something we like... but it is fair since staff at poly-technics and the Institute of Technical Education are also paying parking fees," said a primary school teacher.

But another teacher questioned if carparks in schools have commercial value.

"It is not as if schools can just rent out their carparks to the public because there is the issue of security," said the teacher in her 50s.

Non-school staff such as canteen stall operators and bookshop operators will also need to pay for parking, but not visitors such as parents or volunteers.

All five polytechnics and ITE started charging for parking on their premises last October.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 27, 2018, with the headline 'Parking fees for teachers to kick in from August'. Print Edition | Subscribe