Singaporeans willing to pay to avoid haze

Singaporeans are ready to pay 1 per cent of their annual income if the government guarantees to take steps to control the problem of transboundary haze.

This has been found in a research done by students of National University of Singapore (NUS). People of this land are grappling with air pollution and cases of respiratory diseases have also shot up.

They have published their research in February’s issue of the journal, Environmental Research Letters. Authors of the paper Yuan Lin, Lahiru Wijedasa and Dr Ryan Chisholm wrote, “Our results indicate that Singaporeans experience sufficiently negative impacts of air pollution (in) their day-to-day life, or personal health during haze periods, that they are willing to trade off personal financial gain for improvements in air quality.”

Haze problem in Singapore
Transboundary haze is a significant problem in Singapore. Photo courtesy: Alvinology

To solve the problem of haze, Singaporeans are willing to pay USD 643.5 million (SGD 913 million) a year, which is large enough to make a “substantive impact on the problem” if used for land conservation and restoration, stated the paper.

The survey was conducted among 390 people in public areas from November 2015 to February 2016 on their willingness to pay and whether the Singapore government is able to guarantee good air quality all the year round. When the people responded in the affirmative for making the payment, they were further asked about the percentage of their annual income ranging from 0.05 to 5 per cent they would part for supporting haze mitigation fund.

The researchers concluded that an average person’s willingness to pay is 0.97 per cent of their annual income. However, about 30 per cent of the people were unwilling to pay even the lowest option of 0.05 per cent of their annual income.

Pointedly, transboundary haze is a long-standing problem in the South-east Asian region and Singapore is also significantly affected. It is largely caused by the drainage of carbon-rich peatland as well as companies and farmers in Indonesia using fire to clear land.

Singapore experienced its worst haze episode in 2015 from September to November, with the Pollutant Standards Index hitting hazardous levels.” The 2015 haze episode was estimated to have cost Singapore S$700 million in losses”, said the paper.

Author
Ashraf Jamal
Ashraf Jamal – Senior Writer

Ashraf Jamal brings a rare depth to writing equipped with a degree in journalism, a postgraduate degree in political science, and a degree in law from the Allahabad University. His experience includes editing and publishing the Northern India Patrika and writing for Times of India for almost a decade covering just about any topic under the sun including NRIs and Indian diaspora.

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