Easing Singapore property curbs not on radar: DPM Heng

Singapore has no immediate plans to ease property curbs, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat said on Wednesday, amid renewed calls by developers to loosen a measure that penalises them if they fail to complete and sell new projects within five years.

“It is not on our radar at this point because we need to make sure that we stabilise the economy and we address long-term structural issues,” Mr Heng said in a Bloomberg TV interview.

Singapore imposed curbs in July 2018 to arrest house-price growth. To stop land hoarding, developers have five years from the time of purchase of a site to build and sell all units or risk being hit with a 25 per cent levy, a measure which developers have labelled as punitive.

The curbs have helped keep a lid on the market, with prices gaining just 0.5 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2019. Sales have also fluctuated, with January transactions rising 15 per cent after a 54 per cent slump in December.

Earlier this month, the government loosened another restriction for some developers, exempting listed companies with a substantial connection to Singapore from the Qualifying Certificate regime.

The regime requires firms to complete development within five years and sell all units in a project within two years of its completion.

The move prompted speculation that it was the first step in unwinding the property curbs.

“They are reading too much into that. In Singapore’s context, property is not just an investment, it is a home for people and we must make sure that we get that right,” said Mr Heng.

“That everyone must feel that this is my home, this is something which I as an ordinary worker has something to look forward to.”

Source: Bloomberg

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