Govt to explore ways to increase use of CPF for buying HDB flats

The government is exploring how it can further tie a person’s CPF to the purchase and sale of an HDB flat.

The aim is to strengthen the message that property is an asset for one’s old age.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said this at a forum organised by REACH, the government’s feedback unit.

It is a growing trend that has got authorities concerned: Home-owners selling HDB flats to pay off debts, only then to ask their MP for help in getting a rental unit.

Prime Minister Lee said this goes against the aim of these homes as assets for life.

“When we help people to own a home, it’s really for you for life,” Mr Lee said. “When you’re not so old, and you’ve bought the house, and now you see that the pot of gold is down there and you ignore the ‘please don’t break the glass sign’ and you break the glass and take the money out straightaway, then what happens to you? Or more importantly, your children and your dependents? Where do they go?”

Hence, the government wants to strengthen the CPF route in the buying and selling of flats.

“Like what we’ve been doing with the Additional Housing Grant – that grant we give you into your CPF, you can use it to buy a house,” explained the Prime Minister.

“If you sell the house, the money goes back into the CPF. So if you’re buying another house, you can use that for another house. If you’re not buying another house, the money is there for your old age.”

On tackling income inequality, the Prime Minister said the point was not to measure the size of the gap, but to look at how the poor can be made better off.

Access to a good education and a high rate of home ownership are two of the best things the government has done.

However, Mr Lee noted there are some people who will be left behind.

“And my advice is, please try to help yourself. And particularly, please help your children to break out of this cycle,” he said. “The government will help them, but you must help them too.”

Said Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports: “It’s not just about dollars. It’s how you deliver the dollars, how you deliver assistance so that people make the right decisions for themselves and their children.

“If you were a poor person, anywhere on this planet, Singapore is the one place where you will have a roof over your head, where you will have food on the table. Even if you can’t afford it, we will have meals delivered to you. You will get healthcare.

“Do not lose sight of the fundamentals. And I am confident that we have done our duty for the people who need our help.”

The hour-long dialogue also saw questions on the teaching of the Chinese language, and more help for singles.

In response to a question on casino entry fees, Mr Lee said the aim was not to prevent Singaporeans and permanent residents from gambling. He added that gambling was not harmful if seen as a form of entertainment, but it does become a concern when people get addicted.

The dialogue session is part of a forum on securing Singapore’s future.

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 27 Mar 2010

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