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Written Answer by Mr Tan Chuan-Jin, Minister for Manpower, to Parliamentary Question on Suggestion to Introduce an Over-Arching Accreditation Body for Small Businesses Run by Skilled Tradesmen and Workmen

Notice Paper No. 188 Of 2014 For The Sitting On 7 July 2014
Question No. 32 For Written Answer

MP: Ms Tan Su Shan

To ask the Minister for Manpower if the Ministry can consider introducing an over-arching body to provide accreditation for small businesses run by skilled tradesmen and workmen such as plumbers, electricians, handymen, publish independent pricing guidelines and provide recourse tools for consumers in order to reduce misrepresentation of skills or overcharging.

  1. There are currently licensing requirements in place for essential trades. For example, the Public Utilities Board (PUB) has a licensing scheme for plumbers who carry out water service works such as home plumbing, leak detection and water tank cleaning. Similarly, the Energy Market Authority (EMA) has a licensing scheme for electrical workers. It is an offence for a person to carry out water service plumbing work or electrical work without holding the appropriate license. Additionally, the Housing and Development Board (HDB) recognises a pool of contractors who wish to carry out renovation works and minor repairs such as building, sanitary and electrical works in HDB flats.
  2. In engaging the services of a tradesman or contractor, consumers can refer to the listing of licensed or registered professionals or contractors on the websites of Government agencies such as PUB, EMA and HDB, and of the respective industry associations, such as the Singapore Electrical Contractors and Licensed Electrical Workers Association (SECA) and the Singapore Plumbing Society (SPS).
  3. Competition authorities worldwide have found that price recommendations and fee guidelines, mandatory or voluntary, are generally harmful to competition. In line with this, Singapore does not generally encourage the setting of price recommendations or fee guidelines, but allows different businesses to compete in the market in order to achieve more competitive prices and a wider range of services. This is the better approach to guard against over-charging.
  4. Nevertheless, consumers who encounter an unfair practice can report the matter to the Consumer’s Association of Singapore (CASE). CASE is empowered under the Consumer Protection Fair Trading Act (CPFTA) to assist consumers who encounter unfair trading practices and excessive prices.
  5. We would like to strongly encourage consumers to use relevant resources and information to compare the price and quality of service providers of the particular trade, in order to make a more informed decision.