Singapore— Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) launched its housing policy on Saturday, April 6, with the proposal for Non-Open Market (NOM) flats to be introduced to the public housing system to address HDB’s 99-year lease crisis.
At at the SDP office in Ang Mo Kio, the party’s leaders explained that NOM apartments are those which do not include land costs in their price.
The policy, entitled Housing A Nation: Holistic Policies For Affordable Homes, was presented by Party Vice-Chairman John L. Tan, and Treasurer Bryan Lim.
They explained that this programme would address the problem of the depreciating value of HDB flats because of the 99-year lease of the land.
At the launch, Mr Tan said, “Depreciating values, especially of ageing flats, mean that owners cannot depend on their flats as a nest-egg. The problem is compounded by the fact many Singaporeans have depleted their CPF savings to pay for their flats.”
Under the programme proposed by SDP, administrative, material, and labour costs will still be included in the price of new HDB apartments, but the land cost will not. This will result in considerably decreased prices for flats, for example, 2-room apartments would cost around S$70,000, and 5-room flats could cost lower than S$240,000.
Bryan Lim pointed out that “As the name implies, however, flats bought under this scheme will not be allowed to be re-sold in the open market,” and that people who wanted to sell their flats would have to sell them again to the HDB.
He pointed out that for public housing, the Government should not make a profit from citizens, and that citizens should not use their HDB flats for capital gain. He asserted that as a social good, public housing must be utilized for meeting the ends of the people, and not for profit for either the government or homeowners.
According to a statement from the SDP, under the NOM scheme, Singaporeans would only take 9-15 years to pay off their housing loans, given a 3 percent interest rate and using no more than 20 percent of gross income. The SDP says that this reduces the burden on citizens buying homes and that it would free up funds for greater retirement savings.
Part of the SDP’s proposal is for existing homeowners to convert their flats under the NOM scheme, which would entail the Government giving back the difference between “between the original price of their flats (as purchased from the HDB) and price of an equivalent NOM flat subject to a cap,” the press statement said.
Afterward, the difference would be credited to the homeowner’s CPF or would go toward existing housing loans. “The NOM scheme essentially gives Singaporeans an added option of buying a home at a greatly reduced price. First-time HDB buyers can choose to buy an open market or non-open market flat.”
The SDP outlined their other housing policy initiatives
1. Implementing the Young Families Priority Scheme (YFPS), a targeted priority scheme that grants balloting priority for first-timer families with children or couples who are expectant for Balance Flats or new Built-To-Order Flats in non-mature estates.
2. Increasing the inclusiveness of public housing by enabling single-parent families with children as well as singles to purchase and own their flats. The SDP plan will also increase the range of lower-income Singaporeans for housing rental.
3. Enhancing the Lease Buy-Back Scheme to more effectively assist needy senior citizens to have a secure retirement.
4. Barring Permanent Residents and non-citizens from buying or renting NOM flats.
The press statement added, “these SDP policies can contribute towards resolving some of the major problems affecting public housing in Singapore today and ensuring that our public housing system is compassionate and inclusive.”/ TISG
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