Latest CNNGo.com "Say What? with mrbrown" column: Is Singapore becoming the land of the unaffordable car?
Mrs Lim Hwee Hua, Second Minister for Finance and Transport, has had a busy week.
First, she had to come out to declare that the spike in certificate of entitlement (COE) premiums and car prices was not caused by changes to a formula to determine the number of replacement COEs.
To which almost every car seller and buyer said, "What is this woman smoking? She has to stop."
Let me explain to our international readers what a certificate of entitlement, or COE is. It is a piece of paper that Singaporeans bid for which gives us the right to buy a car in Singapore. Not the car itself, mind you, just the right to buy the car. The government releases a fixed number of these certificates a year, as they also de-register old cars to take them off the road. This is how they control the car population and maintain Singapore's vehicular equilibrium.
This piece of paper has to be the single most profitable piece of paper pushing that the Singapore government does. Or any government in the world, for that matter. We are talking millions of dollars a month here. (cont'd)