Environmental News Archive

An almost weekly update of environmental news, particularly marine updates, with occasional splatters of transportation, indigenous, ideas of sustainability and sustainable development from around the world.


Consumer prices up 6.6% from a year earlier

25 February 2008 (CNA)

SINGAPORE: Singapore's consumer price index (CPI) increased by 6.6 per cent in January from a year earlier, according to data released by the Department of Statistics on Monday.

Higher costs of food, housing, transport and communication contributed to the rise.

Compared to a month earlier, the CPI in January went up by 1.3 per cent, or 1.5 per cent on a seasonally adjusted basis.

Food prices were 1.1 per cent higher due to higher prices of cooked food, fresh fish, poultry and pork following greater demand prior to Lunar New Year period in early February.

Housing cost and healthcare costs also increased 4.1 and 1.3 per cent respectively in January.

Transport and communication costs, however, fell marginally by 0.1 per cent as lower car prices more than offset higher taxi fares.

The Ministry of Trade and Industry said the 6.6 per cent year-on-year increase was consistent with the official inflation forecast of 4.5 to 5.5 per cent for 2008. It added that it largely reflects a low base 12 months ago.

The ministry noted that as the effects of the low base and one-off factors wear off in the second half of 2008, year-on-year inflation is expected to moderate significantly. - CNA/ac


Hazy sky for Singapore as hotspots detected

By Sheralyn Tay, TODAY
25 February 2008

SINGAPORE: Don't rub your eyes, it's not your vision blurring. It's just the haze which returned this weekend.

On Sunday, Singapore experienced its haziest day this year, with the 24-hour Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) reading hitting a peak of 56 at 4pm. This is the highest reading since December last year.

Sunday was also the third consecutive day that the 24-PSI reading has crept past the good range into the moderate range of 50-100. On Saturday, the 24-hour PSI reading hit 52, up from 51 on Friday.

According to the National Environment Agency's (NEA) hot spot map, there are "numerous" hotspots over Thailand and Laos. Hot spots indicate areas with fires or hot smoke and are detected by infrared images captured by weather satellites.

While isolated hotspots have been detected over Myanmar, Cambodia, Vietnam, western Borneo and parts of Sumatra, it was Riau in Sumatra that had been enveloped in thick smoke over the weekend as land-clearing fires created a choking haze that reduced visibility in some parts to 20 metres.

But the number of hot spots in Riau appears to be dropping, as Sunday's hot spot count was four, compared to 100 on Thursday and 50 on Friday.

According to NEA, the moderate haze is due, in part, to drier conditions. So far prevailing winds have kept most of the smoke away from Singapore, although changes in wind direction could account for hazier days ahead. - TODAY/sh



Prices of some vegetables have doubled in the past weeks

By Wong Siew Ying, Channel NewsAsia
23 February 2008

SINGAPORE : Prices of some vegetables have almost doubled in recent weeks.

Importers say this is due to the extreme weather in southern China, which had affected supply of the greens.

The problem is further compounded by the surge in demand for vegetables over the Chinese New Year period.

This saw a reduction in exports to Singapore, and importers had difficulties having their orders fulfilled.

Over the past weeks, only three out of an order of ten containers have been delivered and this shortage has driven up prices.

For instance, a kilogramme of kai lan and chye sim went up by about two dollars to five dollars.

But importers expect prices to soften once more supplies start arriving from southern China next week.

And it will complement stocks from Malaysia and northern China, which remain unaffected. - CNA/ch



S'pore's food inflation remains low by international standards

By S Ramesh and Margaret Perry, Channel NewsAsia
03 February 2008

SINGAPORE: Singapore's food inflation has remained low by international standards, according to a survey of cooked and uncooked food prices worldwide.

The Trade and Industry Ministry (MTI) said while Singapore is not spared from the general increase in global food prices, the survey of 14 countries from 2005 to 2007 showed Singapore had one of the lowest rates of food inflation for all three years.

That is because Singapore's open and competitive environment kept food price increases less pronounced than for most countries.

In 2007, food inflation stood at 2.9 percent, compared to 1.6 percent in 2006 and 1.3 percent in 2005.

The ministry's survey results follow concerns expressed by many Singaporeans that food prices had gone up.

MTI said only three countries – Japan, Australia and South Korea – had a lesser rate of food inflation than Singapore.

Out of the 14 countries surveyed, China had the sharpest increase in food prices last year at 12.3 percent.

The ministry explained that consumers could choose from a wide range of options, allowing them to switch to cheaper alternatives should some businesses charge unreasonable prices.

The Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority has also diversified food sources so that Singapore is less vulnerable to disruptions.

While Singapore has traditionally sourced vegetables from Malaysia and China, the country is now getting them from Vietnam and Indonesia as well.

Imported food prices here rose 12.1 percent between December 2006 and December 2007, but this has not been reflected on supermarket shelves where the prices of non-cooked food rose by only 7.1 percent.

Minister of State for Trade and Industry Lee Yi Shyan said: "What we believe is the distribution channel - the supermarkets and shops - have absorbed the difference, they have not passed on the entire cost difference to the consumers."

Businesses have also played a responsible role in moderating the pace of increases by not passing on the full extent of price increases in their inputs immediately.

Most hawkers, in particular, have shown restraint.

According to the Department of Statistics, about 75 percent of hawkers surveyed held prices constant since June last year.

The ministry said the food component of the Consumer Price Index has increased in recent months.

However, the cooked food price increases have been smaller than those for non-cooked food, and that is an indication that hawkers and restaurants have not passed on all the increases in raw food prices to consumers.

MTI stressed that the rising trend for food inflation is mainly driven by external factors such as the surge in oil prices and adverse weather in supplier countries.

The ministry added that Singapore's best strategy against food inflation is to sustain economic growth over the medium term and create quality jobs for Singaporeans.

- CNA/so