SINGAPORE — “A public housing flat should be an affordable home for our families to live and grow up in,” Workers’ Party MP Gerald Giam (Aljunied GRC) said in a speech in Parliament on Tuesday (Feb 7).
In the debate on motions concerning public housing affordability and availability, which went on until past 11:00 in the evening of Feb 7, Mr Giam urged the government to return the Housing Development Board (HDB) to its original mission, which is to provide affordable and quality housing to all Singaporeans.
He also underlined that housing is a basic human need and that the country’s housing policies had been greatly successful in the early decades of Singapore’s independence.
However, he noted that the government “got distracted along the way when it started pairing the objective of affordable housing with that of asset enhancement. As a result, public housing has become unaffordable by international measures.
The longer we allow these two objectives to be conflated, the more unaffordable housing will become for future generations. It is time that we stopped kicking the can down the road and focus on HDB’s original mission of providing quality and affordable housing for all Singaporeans, especially the lower and middle-income earners.”
Mr Giam also went on to enumerate a number of suggestions for increasing the supply of resale flats, including restricting the concurrent ownership of HDB and private property, which individuals who own HDB flats are allowed to do upon meeting the Minimum Occupation Period and paying an Additional Buyers’ Stamp Duty (ABSD).
He noted that around 3 per cent of people who own HDB flats (around 32,000 units) also own at least one private property. Among them, around 45 per cent do not live in HDB flats, meaning approximately 15,000 HDB flats are unoccupied by their owners.
He also suggested that the government consider that future buyers of private property be required to sell their HDB flats. Those who currently own both public and private housing units could be motivated to sell their HDB flat through a rebate of the ABSD they paid when they bought their private property.
Mr Giam’s speech may be viewed in full here. /TISG
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