FROM DR KOH ENG CHUAN
DIRECTOR (INCOME, EXPENDITURE AND POPULATION STATISTICS DIVISION)
SINGAPORE DEPARTMENT OF STATISTICS
We thank Mr Allan Zheng for his feedback in his letter "Household Expenditure Survey: Survey questions could be improved" (The New Paper, May 27).
The Department of Statistics appreciates the time and effort by all persons who participate in the Household Expenditure Survey (HES).
The HES is an important national survey, carried out once every five years, to collect information on the latest consumption expenditure of persons and households in Singapore.
It is an established survey and is benchmarked against similar surveys conducted by other countries including the United States, United Kingdom, Japan and Hong Kong.
Generally, countries will collect detailed expenditure information to analyse the consumption pattern of the population and for use in the Consumer Price Index (CPI), an indicator of inflation.
All participating households will receive expenditure journals to record details of their daily expenditure for two weeks.
We do accept receipts of sufficient detail if the household chooses to submit receipts instead of recording the expenses in the journal.
Hence, if Mr Zheng has already recorded expenses in the journal, it is not necessary for him to submit the receipts.
We would also like to clarify that it is not necessary to record consumer durable purchases like the TV set purchased five years ago, but we do need to have information of such purchases made within a year of the survey.
Mr Zheng has cited recording the cost of MRT rides in the expenditure journal.
We understand that it may be difficult for our survey respondents to record the exact cost of train rides. In this instance, an estimated cost would suffice.
For respondents who are not able to estimate the costs, our survey officers will usually assist the respondents by asking where they usually board and alight in their daily commute to and from work, and find out the estimated cost for them.
We would like to thank Mr Zheng and other respondents for their time and efforts in participating in the HES 2012/2013.