344 sign up for HDB Lease Buyback Scheme

344 Singaporeans have signed up for the Housing and Development Board’s Lease Buyback Scheme since its launch in March.

HDB gave out its first batch of upfront payment of S$5,000 to flat owners on Tuesday.

Residents in the 30-year-old Queenstown estate were the first to receive the initial payouts from the HDB Lease Buyback Scheme.

Under the scheme, senior citizens aged 62 years and above from low-income households can sell their remaining flat lease to the government.

They can use the proceeds to buy an annuity plan that will provide them with a lifelong income stream of about S$550 a month.

Those who have signed up for the scheme said it allows them to be more financially independent.

One of the scheme’s participants is Ng Siew Yong. She said: “I’m still working, and he’s (her husband) not working. So this scheme is good for us, because it gives us some money to save. So, if there are any problems, we can solve them.”

HDB said its goal is to ensure that elderly Singaporeans understand the options available to supplement their income.

Tay Kim Poh, HDB’s CEO, said: “Our objective is to reach out to the elderly residents that this is a scheme they can consider if they do not have other monetisation options…

“In fact, there are some cases where after we have explained to them…, they felt that the scheme doesn’t quite meet their needs.”

The HDB said it has managed to reach out to about 90 per cent of the 25,000 eligible households.

The programme is applicable to 3-room flats and below. But the HDB said it would consider expanding the programme to residents of four- to five-room flats, depending on the feedback.

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 23 Jun 2009

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