COEs and babies
Posted by temasektimes on September 9, 2012
The Certificate of Entitlement (COE) was introduced for the purpose of controlling the Singapore car population more than two decades ago. Its initial purpose is, however, displaced by the churning of huge revenue for the state as it enters into the realm of astronomical proportions.
Should Singapore continue to allow the COE to function as before? This question depends on another, “Is the family car a necessity or a luxury to the Singapore family unit?”
The usual lifestyle of the younger Singapore family entails ferrying kids from one point to another, to school, tuition or enrichment classes, swimming or piano lessons, etc, not just for the weekends. Convenience in transport and the minimization of traveling time make car ownership a necessity to the young family unit, particularly when it comes to the decision of having more babies.
The need for a family car do not diminish where the kids grow older and when a couple is confronted with ailing older parents. With just a call from the grandparents, mum or dad may have to rush either to their home or for the hospital. The situation is more demanding if the illness is terminal or chronic.
Car ownership is definitely not a luxury for modern day Singapore, let alone speaking of a Swiss standard Singapore.
Current rocketed COE prices imply that only families with reasonably high income should own a car, not that of the average Singaporeans. The average working Singapore folk is now either a professional or semi-pro as compared to that of earlier days. Shouldn’t they be entitled to an “affordable” car? If we start telling the Singapore people that cars are reserved for the very rich, how do they convince themselves that they are living in a family oriented society?
Even though procreation is also a problem faced by other developed nations, isolated solutions with baby bonuses and maternity/ paternity leave work better elsewhere than in Singapore, the reason being, other developed nations do not have the additional issue of land scarcity and do not face a traffic control system like the COE that indirectly stifles their family mobility.
The case of having babies is definitely a materialistic one, directly linked to one’s costs of living. Hoping for Singaporeans to change their value on producing babies but by not relaxing the taxes on the facilities that support the family lifestyle would never have the issue addressed.
HO K H