Workers' Party takes down 'misleading' video which implied PUB had S$5.3b surplus

Workers' Party takes down 'misleading' video which implied PUB had S$5.3b surplus

Workers’ Party’s (WP) secretary-general Pritam Singh
Workers’ Party’s (WP) secretary-general Pritam Singh speaking in Parliament on May 14, 2018.

SINGAPORE: The Workers’ Party (WP) has taken down an online video which it said had given the impression that national water agency PUB holds a S$5.3 billion surplus, after Second Minister for Finance Lawrence Wong said in Parliament on Monday (Jun 9) that the video was misleading.

On Jun 4, WP had put up a video on the rising cost of living in Singapore. The video had text which stated that PUB’s capital reserve "increased from $3b in 2007 to more than $5b in 2016", WP secretary-general Pritam Singh said in a Facebook post on Monday.

“The video and the text create the impression that the PUB hosts a $5.3b surplus. Minister Lawrence Wong has clarified this is not the case. I have instructed that the video be taken down in view of Minister Wong’s clarification,” wrote Mr Singh.

Replying to a parliamentary question filed by MP for Holland-Bukit Timah Liang Eng Hwa, Mr Wong had explained in Parliament on Monday that the capital reserve in PUB’s account does not represent surplus funds it has at its disposal. 

Instead, the capital reserve is money that is already invested in the water agency’s property, plant and equipment.

Mr Wong noted that WP's video had questioned why the water price increases were necessary when PUB's capital reserve had gone up from S$3 billion to S$5.3 billion over the last decade. 

He said that the party interpreted the capital reserve as a hoard of cash surplus that the Government is keeping in PUB's account. This, Mr Wong said, is "completely inaccurate and demonstrates a basic misunderstanding of accounting fundamentals".

"I hope this clarification will set the record straight. I also hope the Workers' Party will refrain from distorting the facts to mislead the public," said Mr Wong.

Mr Singh said he had raised the topic of PUB’s capital reserve in his speech at the President’s Address in May, but his point was not discussed at the debate back then.

Source: CNA/ec