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Singapore experiencing record dry spell - and it could get worse: NEA |
The nearly month-long dry spell from Jan 13 to Feb 8 has gone down in history as the country's worst since extensive data recording began five decades ago, according to the National Environment Agency (NEA).
Barely any rain fell in Singapore for those 27 consecutive days, comfortably dwarfing the previous record, an 18-day dry spell in 2008.
Though brief showers on Feb 8 and Feb 9 ended the dearth and brought respite to parched parks and gardens islandwide, the lack of rain has persisted. Apart from again short-lived showers in western Singapore on Feb 16, the island has seen no rain since.
The dry weather is "likely to persist into the first half of March", the NEA predicted, which could set another record.
Posted on : 2014-02-25
MRT service restored after track circuit failure; commuters complain of delay |
Train services from Jurong East towards Kranji station were restored at about 9am on Monday morning, operator SMRT said on its official Twitter account.
Free buses, which were activated to cope with the overcrowding that occurred on train platforms between Admiralty and Ang Mo Kio stations, remain available. SMRT also sent empty trains to the affected stations to ease the overcrowding.
Train services were delayed on Monday morning's rush hour on the North-South Line towards Marina Bay station due to a track circuit failure.
SMRT said on its Facebook page that the track fault caused trains to travel at slower speeds between Kranji and Yew Tee stations. Its engineers were deployed and the faulty track circuit was fixed at 8.32 am.
Posted on : 2014-02-24
Plenty to look out for in Budget |
Weeks of speculation over the likely content of this year's Budget will finally be put to rest today.
Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam will deliver the Budget statement in Parliament at 3.30pm.
Both individuals and companies will have plenty to look out for this year, going by pre-Budget hints from the Government and tips from observers.
The Pioneer Generation Package is expected to be a major component of this year's Budget.
Intended to honour the pioneer generation, the package is targeted at Singapore citizens who were 16 years or older in 1965 and who received citizenship by Dec 31, 1986.
It will include health-care subsidies, Medisave top-ups and other benefits.
For their part, companies will be on the lookout for tweaks to existing schemes that aim to help them with their restructuring efforts.
In Budget 2013, the Government unveiled a three-year transition support package to help firms become more efficient and move up the value chain.
Business associations, auditors and firms have called for tweaks to the schemes in this package, to prevent abuses and help companies with long-term transitions.
For instance, some observers expect the Productivity and Innovation Credit - which encourages businesses to invest in technology and automation to enhance their productivity - to be fine-tuned and extended beyond its 2015 expiry date.
Small and medium-sized enterprises have also called for more aid with expanding abroad, and improving their access to finance.
In line with efforts to cultivate a more inclusive society, analysts have suggested that higher taxes on wealth to pay for a likely increase in social spending and to reduce the income gap might be likely.
The wheels of a more progressive system were set in motion last year, with a shift towards taxing assets rather than income.
Higher property taxes on investment and higher-end owner-occupied homes were introduced, while the tax rate for luxury cars was also raised.
Of course, Singaporeans hope for "goodies" every time the Budget rolls around - and sometimes, these hopes are fulfilled.
For instance, the abolition of the radio and TV licence in Budget 2011 came as a pleasant surprise.
In previous Budgets, the Government has handed out income tax rebates and "growth dividends", in a bid to share the fruits of economic growth with Singaporeans, and help households with costs.
Posted on : 2014-02-21
Singapore economy grows a faster-than-estimated 4.1% in 2013 |
Singapore's economy expanded 4.1 per cent last year, up from 1.9 per cent in 2012, the Trade and Industry Ministry said on Thursday.
The figure exceeded official flash estimates released last month of 3.7 per cent growth, and also beat the forecasts this week of several economists, who had tipped an expansion of between 3.9 and 4 per cent.
The economy's better-than-expected performance was boosted by a 5.5 per cent expansion in the fourth quarter of last year over the year before, as manufacturing activity grew 7 per cent in the period, the ministry said.
Services industries grew 5.9 per cent in the October to December quarter from a year ago, lifted by growth in wholesale and retail trade, transport and storage and finance and insurance. The construction sector expanded 4.8 per cent in the quarter over the previous year
Posted on : 2014-02-20
New law allows arrest of tour guides without licence |
Tour guides suspected to be operating without a licence can now be searched, questioned and arrested on the spot, after legislation was passed in Parliament yesterday.
The amendments are part of efforts to raise the professionalism and standards of the local tourism industry, with unlicensed guiding becoming more apparent in recent years even as visitor arrivals to Singapore have almost doubled over the past decade.
Second Minister for Trade and Industry S. Iswaran said: "(It) tarnishes the image and impedes the professional development of the industry and licensed tourist guides."
The number of licensed tourist guides stands at almost 2,400 today, up from fewer than 1,500 a decade ago.
Posted on : 2014-02-18