Reservations over HDB legislative amendment

A legislative amendment to allow the Housing and Development Board to provide technical and consultancy services internationally drew concern from two Members of Parliament yesterday.

They felt the HDB was deviating from its core mission of providing affordable housing for Singaporeans.

If this happens, the top brass would focus on generating income, which would pay them “fat bonuses”, rather than “channelling their minds to seeking local solutions”, said Ms Lee Bee Wah (Ang Mo Kio GRC).

“If HDB is so keen to share its expertise and experience, why not transfer its knowledge to local engineers and architects who are pleading for overseas projects?” Ms Lee asked.

Agreeing with her, Mdm Cynthia Phua (Aljunied GRC), pointed out that Surbana Corporation was hived off from the HDB to provide consultancy. She questioned if the HDB had manpower resources to place staff overseas.

Noting their “grave reservations”, National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan said HDB will not abdicate its primary responsibility of meeting the housing needs of Singaporeans.

The provision arose due to requests for consultancy from overseas governments.

For instance, for the Tianjin eco-city project, the HDB shared policies on home ownership, rental housing and financing with the Chinese government, said Mr Mah.

HDB does have plans to work with small and medium enterprises on technical and environmental services such as green buildings and solar panel installation, which the provision will allow for, he added. “Just to reiterate, it’s not going to make money for HDB; it is rather to generate goodwill on behalf of the Government to create a reservoir of goodwill with other governments.”

Source : Today – 20 Jul 2010

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