Singapore—At the Committee of Supply 2021 debate in Parliament on Thursday (Mar 4), Non-Constituency Member of Parliament Mr Leong Mun Wai raised the issue of the shortage of BTO (Build To Order) flats, which he said could become a serious problem for the country.
One indicator of this situation is the demand for rental units under the PPHS (Parenthood Provisional Housing Scheme), said Mr Leong, “which has risen to more than twelve times the available supply in February.”
He cited a statement from Minister Desmond Lee, in October 2020, who said in Parliament that the BTO supply in 2020 was increased to about 16,700 flats to meet the demand.
“We want to know if that’s enough,” the NCMP said, asking additional questions about the forecasted supply shortfall in each of the next five years.
He also asked how the Ministry of National Development would cope with maintaining the delivery schedule of BTO flats in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, given that the deployment of foreign workers has been hampered.
The NCMP, who is from the Progress Singapore Party, also asked if the pandemic would impact the delivery of new flats over the next few years.
“Our reliance on cheap foreign labor has inhibited technological innovation in the past and we are doing catching up now,” he added.
Mr Leong also suggested possible solutions to the BTO flat shortage, including delaying the demolition of certain HDB flats.
He also suggested the Government rent vacant private units in non-prime residential areas from private owners willing to rent out them at reasonable prices, then, in turn, rent them out to PPHS applicants.
“Housing is and will always be a very critical issue on our small island more than anything,” said Mr Leong, “and we should not bite off more than we can chew by trying to house a too-large population.”
He added that the Government should not make any more short-sighted decisions such as destroying more forests in the endeavor to overcome the current shortage problems.