Khaw Boon Wan responds to SDP’s calls to reduce HDB prices

April 11, 2013
Singapore Democrats

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Singapore Democrats

The SDP welcomes the NationalDevelopment Minister’s recognition that something has to be done torein in HDB prices which have become unaffordable for mostSingaporeans.$CUT$

In March this year, Mr Khaw Boon Wansaid that his Ministry would consider “reasonable suggestions”which would bring down HDB prices. The Minister even said that hewould look into the idea of allowing buyers to only sell their flatsback to the HDB.

Although Mr Khaw did not elaborate onthis idea, it sounds similar to the SDP’s proposal ofthe Non-Open Market (NOM) scheme where Singaporeans can choose to buyBuild-To-Order flats at cost and can only sell them back to the HDB,not on the open market.

(This is not the first time that thePAP Government seems to be responding to the SDP’s ideas. HealthMinister Gan Kim Yong recently announced that his ministry wouldreview healthcare costs following SDP’s publication of our healthcarepolicy The SDP National Healthcare Plan: Caring For AllSingaporeans.)

The NOM idea was introduced last yearin our alternative housing policy HousingA Nation: Holistic Policies For Affordable Homes.

Under the scheme, HDB sells flatswithout including the “cost” of state land in the prices. Thismeans that Singaporeans can buy new flats at greatly reduced prices –from $70,000 for 2-room flats to $250,000 for 5-room flats.

It also means that our people don’thave to take up huge housing loans which they have to service usingall of their CPF savings. Capital will be freed up which homeownerscan then use for other types of investment or to save up for theirretirement.

Read also SDP proposes non-open market flats in housing policy

While we are glad to see that Mr Khawseems to be considering our idea, we are also disappointed that hedoes not see the scale of the problem. The Minister said that, “Mostpeople actually do not have a housing problem. But a minority do.”

The fact of the matter is that mostSingaporeans use most of the CPF funds to buy their flats leavingthem with nothing when they retire. It is certainly not confined to aminority. This problem is set to get worse as ourpopulation ages.

The situation calls for urgent reformof our public housing policy, not cosmetic tinkering which doeslittle to address the root of the problem.

And the root of the problem is thefactoring of the “cost” of land into flat prices. Land in Singapore costs the Government nothing. It belongs tothe people and the Government is merely the custodian.

Yet, it sells land to Singaporeans,turning the HDB into an enormous profit-making entity. This is thereason why HDB prices have climbed out of the reach of Singaporeans,especially the younger generation.

Read also
Economist: SDP housing plan “excellent”

Under our NOM scheme, the youngergeneration will find it easier to buy a home and the older generationwill have their CPF returned to them if they choose to convert theircurrent flats to NOM ones.

The SDP’s housing policy, like all ourother policies, is designed to help Singaporeans live more secure andwell-adjusted lives. Our overall objective is to enhance the qualityof lives of our people and, in the process, cultivate a more caringand egalitarian society.