A wrong sense of housing affordability: NSP’s Goh

Paying nothing as a deposit for a new flat or covering monthly mortgages with Central Provident Fund contributions do not mean public housing is affordable, the National Solidarity Party said yesterday.

At current housing prices, buyers will have to service their loans for the next 30 years, which will wipe out the CPF accounts of many buyers, leaving them with little for retirement, NSP secretary-general Goh Meng Seng said in response to recent comments by National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan.

Mr Mah had said on Sunday that eight in 10 couples who buy new flats use only a quarter or less of their salaries to service their home loans, because they use their CPF. Combined with housing grants, a couple earning $4,000 could get a flat with “zero deposit”, he had also said.

But Mr Goh said many young people he has met on the ground cannot afford flats, even with a 30-year mortgage: “A 30-year mortgage isn’t affordable. It would mean that all the youngsters now, in 30 years’ time, wouldn’t be able to retire; CPF would be zero. So what gives? Our future generation will suffer.

“To say that – not forking out cash for deposit – is a myth. It has created a wrong sense of affordability.”

His NSP team distributed flyers at the Tampines MRT Station last night. The NSP is contesting Tampines Group Representation Constituency, where Mr Mah is the People’s Action Party anchor minister.

Mr Goh also defended his proposal that permanent residents should have a longer minimum occupation period for HDB flats: Eight years, compared to five for Singaporeans. Mr Mah had rejected that proposal as housing policy was already “stacked in favour” of Singaporeans.

Mr Goh responded by saying there should be a mindset change with regard to PRs: “Whoever we want to attract, we should have the motive to make sure these PRs will become our citizens. We don’t want (PRs of) a migrant nature.” He believes that raising the criteria to eight years will elicit more commitment from PRs, as a flat will then become a home to them and “the natural path is to become a citizen”.

As for local issues NSP will campaign on, Mr Goh said Tampines has a number of problems, including an ageing population, lack of car park spaces and poor estate maintenance. Some ageing HDB blocks have leaking roofs and peeling paint, he said.

His proposals include a community hospital to serve the elderly in Tampines, Simei and Pasir Ris-Punggol.

Source : Today – 26 Apr 2011

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