08/25/2014 09:30 | By TODAY via Channelnewsasia.com

Committee could explore options for Lease Buyback Scheme

Concern over outliving the 30-year lease is a common one, and is an area the Government can provide more clarity on, says Madam Halimah Yacob.

Committee could explore options for Lease Buyback Scheme

SINGAPORE : The Pioneer Generation Joint Committee could look into the Lease Buyback Scheme - extended recently to four-room flats - and possible options for assuaging some concerns that may remain, said Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob, who chairs the committee.

Under the scheme, participating seniors retain 30 years of their flat’s remaining leases and sell the rest to the Government, with proceeds used to top up their Central Provident Fund Retirement Accounts for annuity payouts. The extension of the scheme – announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the National Day Rally last week – opens up the asset monetisation option to more than half of all flat owners here, although the take-up rate before the extension has been low.

Mdm Halimah, who chairs the committee set up by the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore and self-help group Mendaki to honour pioneer Malays, on Sunday (Aug 24) said that the concern over outliving the 30-year lease is a common one, and an area the Government can provide more clarity on. On the other hand, there are also seniors who want to retain shorter leases, she noted.

One option, Mdm Halimah said, could be to allow greater flexibility in the duration of the lease retained by homeowners under the Lease Buyback Scheme.

She was speaking to reporters after a post-National Day Rally dialogue held with Malay-Muslim community leaders today, involving her and five other People’s Action Party Malay Members of Parliament. The dialogue, involving about 150 Malay-Muslim community leaders, was held at Canberra Community Club in Sembawang, and was chaired by Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim.

Housing and retirement were among the top concerns at the dialogue, Dr Yaacob told reporters after the session. “Top on their minds were the needs of the older generation and how they can retire.”

Participants wanted to know how much they could derive from the Lease Buyback Scheme, and what would happen if they outlived the 30-year leases under the scheme, among other details, he said.

“Our response to them is, we will certainly study this together with the Housing and Development Board,” Dr Yaacob added. “I think this is a real ground-up concern because the Malay community has high home ownership and therefore they want to see how they can monetise the flat without losing the flat altogether, or a place for them to stay.”


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