Commentary: Impact of petrol duty hike go beyond immediate effect on cost of living

SINGAPORE: Probably the most talked about bulletins from Funds 2021 delivered by Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat on Tuesday (Feb 16) was the hike in petrol duties.

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Most drivers are involved with how a lot this might push up prices of driving.

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In spite of everything, yesterday’s mark-up imply petrol duties will hit a excessive this 12 months at 79 cents for premium gasoline and 66 for intermediate grade gasoline.

READ: ‘It’s actually unfair’: Supply, ride-hailing drivers balk at petrol responsibility hike


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True, drivers could be impacted however the impact could also be assorted.

For big privately owned automobiles (say 2.4 litres or extra), the rise would imply about S$100 to S$150 additional a month (assuming 1,000 litres a month consumption).

When you drive for way of life quite than to your livelihood, this improve could also be negligible in comparison with the value of the automobile, its annual depreciation and the place most season parking charges are in that vary or extra.

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And fortunately, taxis, non-public hirer drivers and motorcyclists (who make a bulk of meals deliverers) who use their automobiles for work will get rebates.

However the higher influence is the resultant lower in vehicular emissions catalysed by this transfer.

Petrol station Feb 16, 2021 (2)

View of a petroleum station in Singapore on Feb 16, 2021. (Photograph: Marcus Mark Ramos)

Drivers who really feel the pinch could drive much less if they’ve sturdy public transport choices. Drivers may additionally change their gasoline selections.

The actual fact is premium gasoline (which has larger octane element) produces extra pollution and needs to be discouraged.

The shift from a market share of virtually 55 per cent in 2005 to about 25 per cent in 2017, partially on account of training about gasoline high quality and partially as a result of decrease prices of intermediate-grade gasoline, has already had a constructive influence on the surroundings and human well being.

READ: Commentary: Singapore’s oil and fuel sector ought to embrace transition to a inexperienced future with confidence

This impact was additional enhanced with the zero COE progress coverage since 2018.

Elevating 15 cents per litre on premium gasoline will additional penalise the usage of a extra polluting gasoline versus 10 cents on intermediate fuels. 

The value differential on the pump between the 2 sorts stays regular at about 50 to 60 cents per litre, which may shift drivers presently utilizing premium to intermediate to buffer the influence. 

Petrol station Feb 16, 2021 (1)

View of a petroleum station in Singapore on Feb 16, 2021. (Photograph: Marcus Mark Ramos)


Petrol corporations will probably move the rise in petrol responsibility in its entirety to the patron as an alternative of absorbing the tax hike to make use of this pricing distinction to achieve market share, for the reason that combat for market share has solely short-term advantages, for instance, in relieving storage constraints on the refineries.

They’re extra more likely to concentrate on enhancing model loyalty with associated reductions and promotions to take care of a long-term market share stability.

Our oil business won’t be affected considerably. Solely 20 per cent of our native refinery manufacturing of petrol and diesel is for home use. Rising regional demand for these fuels the place automobile progress will not be restricted will most probably absorb the displaced quantity.

READ: Commentary: Amid low COE costs, right here’s why you must maintain off shopping for a used automobile 


When DPM Heng mentioned in his funds speech: “Usage-based tax has helped shape consumer behaviour towards a more efficient use of fuel or environmentally friendly alternatives,” I puzzled if the petrol tax hike was an software of the nudge concept, an concept grounded in behavioural science.

In spite of everything, constructive reinforcement and oblique strategies can affect individuals’s selections and actions with out them even realising it.

READ: Commentary: Automotive or car-less? All depends upon the mother and father

The motivation for such a rise in petrol responsibility should be the higher potential influence on emission discount than income assortment since many of the collected income will likely be channelled to the patron by way of rebates to ease the transition for these counting on their automobiles for his or her livelihoods.

Petrol and diesel pump gross sales have ballooned to 1,300 million litres per 12 months on common over the past decade.

Assuming 80 per cent of that quantity to be petrol, then we’re taking a look at roughly an extra S$115 million every year in recurring duties, which disappears fairly rapidly with the S$113 million value of rebates additionally introduced on Tuesday.

Briefly, the rise in petrol duties will barely make a dent on nationwide coffers, at the least within the brief time period whereas there are nonetheless rebates.

(With new inexperienced targets introduced by the Singapore Authorities, when will we be seeing extra electrical automobiles on our roads? And can city council and condominium committees get entangled? The creator and a enterprise professor weigh in on CNA’s Coronary heart of the Matter:)



A secondary intent could also be in selling the transition to electrical automobiles with charging infrastructure improvement, if public transportation is much less of an appropriate substitute.

In prodding Singaporeans to undertake extra acutely aware way of life selections aligned to our nationwide imaginative and prescient of a Inexperienced Singapore, different behavioural modifications that needs to be inspired embrace avoiding peak hour jams (which burns at the least two to a few occasions extra gasoline), decreasing common driving pace, much less aggressive driving, and well timed automobile upkeep.

An environment friendly public transport system will even be a key enabler.

Client behaviour is a crucial lever in our combat in opposition to local weather change. If customers usually are not focussed on sustainability, the environmental advantages from investments in new inexperienced applied sciences and progressive inexperienced insurance policies won’t ever be absolutely realised.

READ: Commentary: Why Singapore is ripe for an electrical car revolution


As Singapore marches in the direction of the 2040 objective of phasing out of petrol automobiles, there will likely be much less petrol responsibility collected albeit with a constructive influence to the surroundings.

The query on everybody’s thoughts then could also be how the federal government would complement the diminished recurring income from petrol responsibility. Would this be by a rise in carbon taxes?

The rise in petrol responsibility additionally makes driving electrical automobiles extra engaging, the place the price of electrons can vary from roughly 17 to 24 cents per kWh when charging at residence to 55 cents per kWh when charging at public shops supplied by Shell Greenlots, and even decrease at SP Group and ultimately future Cost+.

Petrol station in Singapore Feb 16, 2021

A petroleum station in Singapore on Feb 16, 2021. (Photograph: Marcus Mark Ramos)

Which means S$35 at 55 cents per kWh for a full electrical automobile battery of 64kWh for a journey distance of 350 to 400km relying in your driving fashion and use of air-conditioners.

That is excellent news when intensive lifecycle evaluation have proven that EVs contribute a 3rd of the greenhouse gases a comparable car with an inside combustion engine does. This determine improves with a greener electrical energy grid.

Even in Singapore, with 95 per cent of our electrical grid on pure fuel, EVs will nonetheless assist to scale back our greenhouse fuel emissions.

READ: Commentary: Electrical automobiles will take over Singapore. However right here’s what should occur first

READ: Amid push for electrical automobiles, getting charging factors put in in condominiums stays a problem

For these causes, I’m additionally hearted by the introduced S$30 million fund to develop Singapore’s EV charging infrastructure improvement efforts.

In Singapore’s shift in the direction of a greener financial system, we might want to hold our eye on juggling varied sustainability balls to ship influence.

We are going to want extra behavioural nudges to scale back emissions by the transport sector which, for the document, has already began its daring transformational journey.

Dr Sanjay C Kuttan is council member on the Sustainable Vitality Affiliation of Singapore and Chair of the Sustainable Infrastructure Committee.

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