Mr Liang Eng Hwa: To ask the Minister for Trade and Industry (a) what are the reasons for a spike in households' utility bills in July and August 2020; (b) whether there are errors in the meter readings; and (c) whether there are any increases in the prices of utilities.
Written Answer by Minister for Trade and Industry Mr Chan Chun Sing
1. Mr Speaker, electricity and town gas tariffs had decreased in the third quarter of 2020, and there had been no change in water prices during this period.
2. However, three reasons could have contributed to higher household utility bills in recent months , compared to earlier this year.
3. First, households’ utility consumption in Singapore is typically higher during the warmer months from April to August as households use more electricity for fans or air-conditioners. In the past 5 years, the average monthly electricity consumption during April to August is typically 8% higher than in other months.
4. Second, households’ utility consumption increased since April, as Singaporeans spent more time at home during the circuit breaker period and early stages of our phased reopening, as part of our national efforts to manage local community transmissions of COVID-19.
5. Third, physical meter readings by SP Group were suspended in April and May 2020 during the circuit breaker period. Households’ utility consumption during this period were estimated using data from February and March 2020, which is an under-estimation. The higher consumption in April to May was reflected in households’ utility bills in June and July 2020, after physical meter readings resumed in June 2020, which could have led to the higher utility bills.
6. We have provided Singaporean households with more support for their utility bills this year. Every household with at least one Singapore Citizen received a one-off $100 Solidarity Utilities Credit in their July or August SP Group utility bill. Eligible HDB households also received the GST Voucher – U-Save, which has been doubled this year through a one-off GST Voucher U-Save Special Payment. Eligible HDB households with five or more members will also receive a further GST Voucher – U-Save rebate.