Monday, 3 June 2013

How come the “Finest” worth so much at NTUC Finest –is it having the same group thinking as the PAP?

[Is NTUC Fair Price following the footstep of SMRT? Have they forgotten their principle duty as a social enterprise to help lower income families? SMRT goes beyond the services of commuters and NTUC beyond the interest of lower income families.]
Finest or not, after all NTUC is still a co-operative. A co-operative even how fine it is it is still a cooperative with the objective of helping the lower income families, the people at large and ordinary citizens.

Pay more to shop at NTUC Finest 
I am shock to find out the renovated Hougang A NTUC Supermarket now renamed as NTUC Finest can offer ordinary items as expensive as the nearby Cold Storage or even dearer.

Perhaps, NTUC has forgotten they are a co-operative, a social enterprise, as PM Lee and union leaders have also stressed.  NTUC is to help citizens to fight inflation and lower down the cost of living for Singaporeans. And now the word “finest” means expensive after a name change and renovation.

It looks like NTUC is just doing the opposite (finest in price only), just like the HDB housing and the hawkers’ stalls. After upgrading with new design and facilities, HDB demands higher selling prices for HDB flats or higher rental of hawkers’ stalls.

Price adjustment after renovation

Price adjustment always comes after renovation or upgrade. The PAP does it so do the NTUC.

NTUC Finest Hougang A

Here are some selected daily items and their price differences between NTUC Finest and Supermarket.

NTUC Finest
Hougang A
NTUC Toa Payoh A and City Sq
Price adjustment
Red spinach
0.45/0.364 =
Baby spinach
0.5/0.455 =
9.9% up
Tomato 100g
$0.22 (big)
$0.15 (small and medium)
0.22/0.15 =
46.7% up
Bread blue packaging
Not offer

NTUC City Sq
Before the renovation in May 2013, the Hougang A NTUC Supermarket offered the same prices as the other two stores in Toa Payoh and City Sq. In term of location and rental, I don’ think Hougang A is in a better location and having to higher rental.  I also doubt there is a rental increase after renovation.

But consumers have to pay for the renovation costs and the “finest” goods and services. I don’t see the difference in quality (for spinach I brought at NTUC Finest) or service.  In fact, the price tags were not displayed for the spinach and so as regular customers, I don’t pay attention even there is no listing of price. I only notice the difference after payment.   

NTUC Toa Payoh A
If the price adjustments for some daily necessaries can increase by at least 10%, plus the cheapest range of products, like the blue packaging house brand bread, are not on offer; how can NTUC Fair Price help to lower the living burden of common people.

Not to forget in the neighborhood of Kovan MRT, there is only one NTUC Supermarket (now Finest). This means residents have to go to both expensive supermarkets (Cold S and Finest) for their daily needs.

If you are the only supermarket, with a social enterprise spirit of fighting inflation, in the neighborhood, why are you running away and joining the commercial enterprise and forming the oligopoly competition in the area?  

If there are two NTUC Fair Prices in the same area, then the rational of one goes upmarket and the other serves the lower income people seems logical.   
But the situation near Kovan MRT is different.  There is only one NTUC.

Quite obviously, NTUC Fair Price is doing the same thing like the PAP government. They have the same group thinking, whether running the country or running a social enterprise.

NTUC is a mirror of government polices

The name “Finest” has many implications. For medical care, lower income families are facing Class C or B options, or for middle income families the choice of government or private hospitals.

For education, students can go to the “finest” independent schools, or neighborhood schools.

For HDB, you can apply for the “finest” EC flats or normal HDB flats.

For COE, you can go for the “finest” above 1600cc cars or small cars.

No cheap alternatives at NTUC Finest

So, shopping at NTUC, you still have an option, you can go to the Finest and spend more or go to a normal supermarket but you may not get one in your neighborhood, like the case of Kovan MRT.

Yes. The government supplies options, choices and alternatives, but like the Hougang A NTUC Finest, you may not have the opportunities to shop at the NTUC supermarkets elsewhere. However, if you insist to do so, you will have to spend more time and money travelling to the nearer NTUC supermarkets outside your neighborhood.

Upgrade to Finest voters?

Kovan MRT is within Paya Lebar –Aljunied GRC.  

One reason I can think of for the renamed NTUC Finest is NTUC has quietly upgraded the Aljunied residents and voters to the finest people in Singapore.

We are now giving the chance to shop at the finest supermarket.  Of course, as customers and residents, you too have to be “finest” too.

But there is (an expensive) price to pay for getting this finest honour by shopping at Hungang A NTUC Finest!

Perhaps, same to the PAP too!  It will be another expensive lesson to learn from (not) helping Singaporeans.

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