New parking charges for MPs?

Good move but could have gone further

Parking charges are an emotive subject because of the high car prices in Singapore. When cars cost an arm-and-a-leg, logic dictates that car owners can well afford whatever parking charges come with it.

To be honest, parking here is not as bad as some places like New York or Sydney. According to the 2017 Global Parking Index (not a joke), on average, New York has the highest two-hour parking rates at US$32.97, while Sydney’s average is US$28.45. Finally something we are not ranked top. Haha!

But when elected MPs and what they pay to park in Parliament comes into question, all hell breaks loose. Some say that since MPs receive a monthly allowance of about $15,000, why should their parking fees be subsidised? I tend to agree with this.

After all, the Government has been beating its drum about the importance of a transparent wage without hidden perks that can lead to the slippery slope of corruption. That’s the reason cited when MOE decided to charge teachers for parking at their schools.

Maybe that’s why the announcement that MPs will pay $250 a year to park at Parliament, still feels like a cop-out. Yes, MPs used to pay $365 a year that included parking at Parliament and HDB car parks. And of course it is good that from 1 Jan 2019, MPs will pay per-hour charges at HDB car parks – just like what every “mediocre” Singaporeans would do.

But to me, the $250 a year to park at Parliament sounds a bit on the low side. Granted that Parliament sits for maybe one to two days a month with no sittings in some months (I think June and December), $250 for around 22 days of parking for 10 months still sounds like a subsidised rate. It works out to about $11 a day. Surely that can’t be the market rate for a full-day of parking in the CBD area?

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That said, so-called alternative sites like Wake Up, Singapore have been stirring the issue by comparing teachers’ parking to MPs’ parking. Don’t be cock leh! Teachers park for 5 days a week, sometimes 6 days a week. MPs park for 2 days a month. Why are we comparing apples with oranges?

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This Mothership article said that a Ministry of National Development spokesperson told Straits Times that the new parking permit fee is “based on MPs’ average annual parking usage at Parliament House, and pegged to Parliament House’s public car park rate”.

The thing I don’t understand is why do we need to peg anything? Why don’t we just have MPs pay per-hour charges like everyone else? You either have season parking or you have per-hour parking. Something in-between like what we have now only invites more questions. Right?