Sunday, August 17, 2008

errrrrr..p - Who wrote the rally speech?

National Day Rally speeches are not intended to be funny. I am sure, however, that any good speaker would throw in a joke or two in the speech just to hold on to the attention of the audience. So, how is this for a joke:

'When ERP was increased, we also reduced road tax and improved public transport. As a result, many more Singaporeans can now own cars. With more cars on the road, we need to increase ERP to keep traffic flowing.' - PM Lee Hsien Loong, National Day Rally 2008

ERP was intended to reduce traffic.
COE system was also intended to reduce traffic.

According to the Straits Times report today (18 Aug 2008): 'He said that since 2000, the Government has been making it easier for many more Singaporeans to own cars. Vehicle-related taxes have been progressively reduced and more Certificates of Entitlement (COEs), which one must have before purchasing a car, have been released.'

This has made vehicle ownership easier and put more cars on the road.
This has increased traffic.

Solution: Increase the ERP.

And then, when it starts doing its job, implement more policies to put more cars on the road. When when traffic gets worse, increase ERP.

A never-ending spiral of ever-escalating costs. A money tree that really grows. Wow! That's brilliant.

To be fair, I merely read the quote in the Straits Times article online. Something could have been lost in the translation. Perhaps there is some nuance to the words that may be better apprehended if one watches the speech. Perhaps it was a candid admission of a flaw in the policy of making car-ownership easier since 2000 and that something would be done to fix it once and for all and that it would not be turned into a cash-squeezing spiral.


Nighthound said...

I didn't really see it as a contradiction. Both ERP and COE are used as means to control vehicle voulme.

What they're doing is to reduce COE and increase ERP to keep the overall cost (approximately) equal. At the same time, this means that the cost of ownership is transferred from a flat rate (COE) to pay-as-you-use (ERP), which is generally better.

The problem is that people normally don't factor in ERP into their cost consideration, so when COE goes down, people think it's cheaper to own a car, even though it is actually the same because ERP goes up.

Anonymous said...

Actually I believe this is a trick to allow Singaporeans to buy more cars, which are regarded as status symbols, and also contribute to economic growth. Once people realize how expensive actually driving the car is, many will probably leave it in the garage or use it only on rare occasions. The million-dollar ministers sure are smart! This leaves the rest poor ignorant fools.

Anonymous said...

The government is making car ownership easier so that the electorate will be happy as there is sense of accomplishent in life (in singapore) if you own a car. At the same time, they are increasing ERP to control the traffic and to collect revenues. However ERP causes other collatoral damage when implemented without thought, just look at the businesses in Chinatown and Marina area crying out for help. When more gantries come up this Nov, you will find that more businesses will run into problems.Those brillant guys in the LTA do not have "SIMs business" in their computer models so they did not even see this coming. In short, I think this ERP move seems to be for making the electorate feel good about owning cars and is totally ignorant of business impacts when implemented blindly. Yes traffic jams cause economy impacts in the long run if left unchecked and Yes ERP cause economic problems even in the short term if left unchecked.