MP urges raising of income cap for subsidised HDB flats

It is time to raise the income ceiling for first-time buyers of subsidised public housing, says MP for Holland-Bukit Timah GRC Christopher De Souza.

This, he feels, will also help ensure a more equitable distribution of the Budget surplus.

Speaking during the Budget debate, Mr De Souza pointed out that it has been 14 years since the HDB last increased the monthly income ceiling for buyers of new flats, from $7,000 to $8,000.

Yet in the 10 years between 1995 and 2005, he said, data from the General Household Survey showed the proportion of resident households earning $8,000 and above every month had nearly doubled from 10.85 per cent to 19.9 per cent.

And while measures have been taken to help the low-income group meet their housing needs, this was not the case for the middle-income group.

For example, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong stated in last year’s National Day Rally speech that the maximum Additional CPF Housing Grant (AHG) would be enhanced further from $20,000 to $30,000. In addition, the household income ceiling for AHG eligibility would be raised from $3,000 to $4,000. These changes help the low-income group.

Meanwhile, skyrocketing property prices also mean many in the middle income group could no longer afford resale flats or the cheaper leasehold private condominiums.

For example, HDB records show that a 4-room resale flat at Jalan Membina was sold for $590,000 or $609 psf; a 5-room Marine Parade flat was sold for $750,888 or $577 psf; and an executive Mei Ling Street flat was sold for $890,000 or $552 psf.

Mr De Souza said: “The middle-income couple is caught in a difficult position. For example, some of my constituents and peers in my age group say, ‘I will accept the promotion in my company but I will decline the raise so as not to breach the income ceiling’. The question to ask is therefore: ‘Is it worthwhile turning down the raise?’ Unfortunately, many have said ‘yes’, especially in a private property market which has seen prices skyrocket.” – CNA/ir

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 25 Feb 2008

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