The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU)has, perhaps not surprisingly, named Singapore the most expensivecity in the world. But rather than just lash out at the PAP Governmentfor this dubious achievement, the SDP will propose constructive measures tolower the cost of living for Singaporeans.$CUT$
First, housing is extremely expensivein Singapore because of of high HDB prices. Young couples nowadayshave to borrow huge amounts of money to pay off their housing loans,usually for 25 to 30 years using their CPF funds. This, of course,deprives us of our retirement income.
High propertyprices affect not only flat owners. Asset inflation means thatworkers have to be paid more so that they can make ends meet while atthe same time increase commercial property prices, leading to higher office and shop rentals. Business owners also want totake home bigger profits to meet theirhousing expenses. All these increased costs are passed on to theconsumer, jacking up living expenses for the people.
The SDP has proposed the Non-OpenMarket (NOM) scheme in our housing policy paper in which Singaporeansbuy HDB flats at cost (minus the cost of land) which willsubstantially reduce the costs of flats ($120,000 for a 4-room flatas compared to twice that amount under current prices). In return, owners can only sellthe flat back to the Government without profit.
Such a measure not only lets the people retain their CPF savings but will also control assetinflation with the ripple effect lowering rental for retail space.This will, ultimately, lower costs on goods.
Read also SDP proposes non-open market flats in housing policy
Second, much of the dramatic rise in livingexpenses can be traced to the massive influx of foreigners. With more people, the demand for housing and cars (COEs)escalate. At the same time, wages are depressed especiallyfor lower-income workers.
To solve this problem. we propose in our population plan thatthe number of foreign workers allowed into Singapore be checked. Thiscan be done through the Talent Track Scheme where we rigorously assessthe skills and competencies of foreigners wanting to work here, and allow in only those who are genuinely qualified.
Employers can then hire from this poolbut only after they demonstrate that they have tried to employ aSingaporean but are unable to find one who has the requiredskills/qualifications.
In this way, we don’t deprive ourbusinesses of genuine foreign talent while ensuring that we keep ourpopulation to a manageable and sustainable level. This, as a consequence,lower living expenses.
Read also SDP unveils six-point plan to control population
The third item that makes Singapore so expensive for our citizens is healthcare costs.The SDP has proposed in our National Healthcare Plan that the government pays the bulk of the premiums in a national insurance schemecalled the National Health Investment Fund (NHIF).
Singaporeans also pay into the pool butat a much reduced rate than we do with the current Medisave scheme.Upon hospitalisation, we pay only 10 percent of the bill up to amaximum of $2,000 per year, the NHIF pays the remaining 90 percent.
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Being the mostexpensive city in the world is not only a burden for Singaporeans,the financial pressure is also putting a tremendous amount of strainon our social lives and relationships – and ultimately our lives.
The SDP will offerour alternative ideas to Singaporeans at the next elections. Our vision is to make Singapore the most livable city in the world, not the most expensive.