SINGAPORE,. Elected Members of Parliament (MPs) will have to pay when they park in Housing and Development Board (HDB) carparks from next year.
They will have to fork out the prevailing short-term parking rates to use HDB carparks via the Parking.SG mobile application or the Electronic Parking System, said a circular issued by Clerk of Parliament Ng Sheau Jiuan to MPs last week.
This is on top of the annual permit they may apply for, which will cost S$250 (RM762.86) — including the Goods and Services Tax — to park in Parliament House for official business.
Right now, this permit costs S$365, and lets MPs park in HDB carparks — including in season-parking spaces — when they carry out constituency work, and in Parliament House.
The changes, which take effect from January 1 next year, follow a government review of the yearly permit.
Under the revised system, elected MPs with an annual permit may park in Parliament House, and will still be able to enter HDB carparks and park in any spot — including season-parking spaces — for their constituency work. But they will have to pay to use the carparks, based on the circular.
The issue of parking fees was thrust into the spotlight after the Education Ministry said in March that teachers at all national schools and junior colleges will have to pay for parking in school premises from August 1, after a policy review.
The debate prompted questions over whether MPs, civil servants and grassroots volunteers pay to park their vehicles.
In a letter to the Straits Times Forum page in June, Leader of the House Grace Fu said that elected MPs pay for the yearly parking permit, and that this is deducted from their allowances.
Political-office holders — such as ministers — and civil servants also pay for parking at their ministries and agencies.
“This payment generally covers the occasions when they visit other ministries and agencies on official business; and if they have to pay for public or commercial carparks in the vicinity, they are reimbursed,” wrote Fu, who is also the Culture, Community and Youth Minister.
In the same vein, teachers now have to pay to park at their primary places of duty. “But no one is suggesting they pay again when they visit other schools to attend meetings,” she had said.
Walking the talk
Zainal Sapari, an MP for the Pasir Ris-Punggol Group Representation Constituency (GRC), said the move reflected the Government’s transparency, and the public would welcome it.
“We have to make sure that we walk the talk because we wanted teachers to pay for season parking in schools,” said Zainal.
The review for parking in schools was triggered by the Auditor-General’s disapproval in 2015 of some educational institutions allowing their employees to park for free or at fees below the market rate. Such practices were “tantamount to providing hidden subsidies for vehicle parking”, the Auditor-General’s Office had said.
The move to tweak MPs’ parking fees was to “ensure there is alignment” with the policy of not having hidden perks, said Zainal.
MP Yee Chia Hsing from the Chua Chu Kang GRC said that parliamentarians have “no choice, (as) even schoolteachers have to pay for parking in schools”.
Even so, Yee, who uses HDB carparks four or five times a week for his work in the constituency, said he was “quite happy” to pay the short-term parking charges.
Hougang MP Png Eng Huat from the Workers’ Party said that he was not sure about the impact of the changes, as his constituency work could at times stretch from the mornings into the evenings, and even past midnight.
“It means we’ve to top up our CashCard more,” he quipped.
He said MPs may be better off paying for season parking in their constituencies.
“We’ll just have to see how it goes,” Png said. — TODAY