Fine-tuning of housing policies called for

The MP for Holland Bukit Timah GRC, Christopher De Souza said that though housing policies need fine-tuning, the foundation of these policies are still sturdy.

He was responding to concerns expressed by Non-Constituency MP Gerald Giam of the Workers’ Party (WP) on the public housing situation in Singapore.

“BTO flats do not solve the immediate housing problem, because it takes up to three years before the new flat owners get their keys. In the meantime, many are still without a home of their own,” said Mr Giam during his speech in Parliament.

Responding, Mr De Souza said: “”While we can agree that these policies need fine-tuning, what I cannot agree with the Member (Mr Giam) is that the foundations of the policies are incorrect because… 80 per cent of Singaporeans live in public housing and 80 per cent of Singaporeans own their own homes. So I beg to differ; I think I was correct to say that we should be very careful not to throw the baby out with the bath water.”

Also speaking on the housing issue, MP for Nee Soon GRC, Dr Lim Wee Kiak called on HDB to return back to its basics, with home ownership as the main mission.

In addition to reviewing the pricing policy of new HDB flats, he also had these suggestions.

“No. 1, disallow HDB flat upgraders to private property from retaining their flats for rental, which means they have to sell. No. 2, impose additional tax conditions on PRs who have invested in HDB flats for rental or for capital gain. No. 3, increase HDB housing grant to low income families, but at the same time, extend the minimum occupancy period to prevent premature cashing out,” said Dr Lim.

On helping low-income Singaporeans plan for their retirement, Dr Lim suggested forming a common pool of pension funds apart from CPF, where everyone contributes according to their income level and is disbursed equally to all retiring Singaporeans.

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 18 Oct 2011

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