Last Week in Numbers: A Focus on Singapore

Singapore factory output growth accelerated in May, growing 11.1% year-on-year. This is faster than analysts’ estimates of a 10% growth and beat April’s 9.1% rise.

Electronics, which makes up about a third of Singapore’s manufacturing output, expanded by 17.1%, led by semiconductor production, which grew 26.9%. This was the 27th straight month of expansion in electronics output. The biomedical sector’s growth accelerated to 17.7% from 8.2% in April.

Meanwhile, consumer prices in Singapore rose 0.4% in May, in line with analysts’ expectation and faster than the 0.1% increase in April. Core inflation, which excludes the cost of accommodation and private road transport, increased 1.5%, slightly faster than April’s 1.3% rise. The rise was due to faster price increase across all major categories in the consumer price index, except for food.

Singapore has opened a third desalination plant this week. The S$217 million Tuas Desalination Plant can produce up to 30 million gallons a day. This is equivalent to the amount used by around 200,000 households daily. Singapore can now meet 30% of its water needs through desalination, up from 25%.

The plant will also be eco-friendly, with more than 7,000 square meters of its roof covered in a photovoltaic system, which can generate 1.4 million kilowatt- hours of energy a year. This would be sufficient to power 300 four-room flats for a year.

The opening of the new plant comes just as Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad criticised the price of raw water sold to Singapore as “ridiculous”. The water agreement, which expires in 43 years, entitles Singapore to draw up to 250 million gallons a day from the Johor River. Singapore, in turn, pays 3 sen per thousand gallons of raw water and sells treated water back to Johor at 50 sen per thousand gallons. However, Singapore had previously publicly said that it cost RM2.40 to process a thousand gallons of water. By selling the treated water at 50 sen, Singapore is providing a subsidy of RM1.90 to Malaysia per thousand gallons.

Around 1.6 million Singaporeans will receive GST vouchers to offset their GST expense. As announced in Budget 2018, a one-off SG Bonus of up to S$300 will be given to Singaporeans aged 21 and above in 2018. Also, about 485,000 Singaporeans aged 65 and above will receive up to S$450 in their Medisave account.

Finally, Singapore has been ranked the fourth most expensive city for expatriates in a survey published by global HR consulting firm, Mercer. Hong Kong tops the list, followed by Tokyo and Zurich. The survey covered 209 cities across five continents and measured the cost of more than 200 items in each location, including housing, transportation, food, clothing, household goods and entertainment.

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The information provided is for general information purposes only and is not intended to be personalised investment or financial advice. Motley Fool Singapore contributor Jeremy Chia doesn’t own shares in any companies mentioned.