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Hot 2008 topic: The rising cost of living

WHEN Trade and Industry Minister Lim Hng Kiang announced last November that inflation could hit 4 per cent or 5 per cent in the first quarter of this year, analysts and consumers sat up.

It would be a ‘historic high’ in the 25 years since 1983. The previous high was in July 1991, when it hit 4 per cent.

But today, some analysts are even more pessimistic, predicting that inflation could surge past 6 per cent on the recent wave of increases in taxi fares, electricity tariffs and the continued rise in oil prices.

Views are also divided on whether inflation will taper off by the second half of the year, averaging around 3 per cent, or persist at current levels.

The way the numbers are looking, the impact of these increases is not only on the low-income and retirees living on their savings, but also on the middle-income, MPs tell Insight.

Among them, those who feel it most are the ones who earn too much to benefit from help schemes, but too little to manage the demands of supporting both growing children and ageing parents.

Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC MP Michael Palmer says: ‘You’d hear a bigger noise from them this time round because they feel squeezed.’

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has said the Government is against imposing controls on food or utility prices to curb rising inflation.

In his New Year message, he promised that the coming Budget should have something to help the low-income and older Singaporeans.

 

Source: The Straits Times 5 Jan 08

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