Building Brics for HDB

Proposed flat application system gives ownership of choice and saves on effort

I APPLAUD the Housing and Development Board’s (HDB) recent initiative regarding balloting under the build-to-order (BTO) scheme, which aims to deter people from throwing their names into the flat-balloting hat frivolously.

However, I feel that the root of the problem lies with the balloting system – it is like a lucky-draw, and when we do not give people ownership, responsibility and most importantly, accountability for their actions and decision-making, they abuse the system and keep “trying their luck” until they “strike lottery” and get the flat they desire thus, putting a strain on public resources.

At the same time, the HDB’s decision to limit additional priority for repeatedly unsuccessful applicants to non-mature estates, is unfair. This policy is in direct conflict to and cancels out the priority applicants have under the Married Child Priority Scheme (MCPS). Perpetually unlucky applicants whose parents live in popular estates such as Redhill and Toa Payoh, are deprived of additional priority unless they move far away from their parents to live in the newer estates.

Doesn’t this defeat the purpose of the MCPS, which is the promotion of stronger ties between generations in extended families, by encouraging them to live near each other?

I would like to propose a new flat application system, which I have coined the bidding-ranking cyclical system (Brics).

Under this system, HDB will announce all its up-coming projects including BTO, balloting exercises for leftover flats from Sers (selective en bloc redevelopment scheme) and others (about 8 to 10 projects) for the entire year by December of the previous year, providing adequate information necessary for potential buyers to evaluate and make informed choices.

In January, the board invites applicants to rank between three and five projects in their choice areas or estates in order of preference, with the most desired ranked 1st. For example, each applicant will be given 20 points to bid for the five projects they have ranked (with a minimum bid of 1 point and a maximum of 7 points per project). First-time applicants will have their points doubled, while those who are first-timers and applying under the MCPS will have their points quadrupled :- but they must fully utilise all their points and do so within the restrictions set by HDB.

HDB will proceed to sort applicants first by ranking and then by points. The applicant with the highest points for each project ranking will be given the 1st position in the queue and so on. If there is a tie in points, a ballot will be used (as a last resort) to determine the queue order. The whole cycle for the year is complete when all projects have undergone five rounds of sorting (for the five rankings). All priority privileges and penalties will continue to apply.

Among the many advantages of Brics:

The ranking-bidding system, working in tandem, gives ownership of choice to the applicant and serves as a differentiating factor.

Transparency on HDB’s part in disclosing all projects for the year curbs speculation and kiasu-ism.

It saves on effort as HDB can do eligibility tests all at one go and does not have to have so many balloting exercises throughout the year.

The multi-tier ranking better matches applicant-flat fits and HDB will be able to sell off most of its new flats.

Hopefully, Brics will be an efficient method of solving all our flat selection woes.

WONG WENG KEET

Source : Today – 27 May 2008

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