Channel NewsAsia
Updated: 05/09/2013 13:20 | By Channel NewsAsia

Existing homeowners have to be considered when changing policies: Dr Maliki Osman

Existing homeowners have to be considered when changing policies: Dr Maliki Osman

Existing homeowners have to be considered when changing policies: Dr Maliki Osman

SINGAPORE: Homeowners can rest assured that their interests will be considered, even as Singapore mulls changes to its housing policy.

The assurance was given by Senior Parliamentary Secretary for National Development Dr Mohamad Maliki Osman at a dialogue session on housing, which is part of 'Our Singapore Conversation' series.

More than 50 participants discussed a host of issues, such as the types of public housing Singapore should have and whether the executive condominium scheme should be discontinued.

One participant, Leong Yi Xing, said: "I still feel there should be a form of housing or else the gap between private and public housing is going to be too great."

However, another participant, Leonard Ng, said:  "I personally don't see that EC is a good investment. Like I said, you wait for five years to get your returns back. That's crazy."

But even as changes to Singapore's housing policy are considered, Dr Mohamad Maliki Osman said the interests of existing homeowners must not be forgotten.

He added: "Whatever we do with the pricing of new flats -- the BTO (Build-to-Order) flats -- will have impact somewhat later on. We have to be mindful what it is that we have promised Singaporeans when we talk about home ownership."

Property analyst Chris Koh, who was also a participant, echoed the view.

He said: "Perhaps if we did increase public housing and have different types, or more types, then existing owners will be saying 'not fair', (during) my time, I only had this restricted amount to select from.

"We spoke also about income ceilings, whether we should change it. And I feel likewise if we were to change it, then again the people who have bought today would say, 'but I was subjected to a particular income ceiling'."

Currently, a S$10,000 income ceiling is imposed on BTO flats, and some participants called for this to be removed.

One participant said that owning a HDB flat should be an entitlement of every Singaporean.

But Dr Maliki said the implications have to be considered carefully, as 80 per cent of Singaporeans live in public housing.

He said: "The fact that you say there shouldn't be any income ceiling, you're effectively saying the government should provide housing, at least the first basic housing for every Singaporean literally -- 100 per cent -- everybody is entitled to public housing. That's a policy position that we need to talk about."

"With 80 per cent, we've talked about variety of aspirations as well as the differential views, the differential expectations. With 100 per cent, there would be a lot more complexities because different groups of people want different things. So that diversity is something that we have to pay attention to."

In the coming weeks, other topics -- like the affordability of housing and monetisation options for the elderly -- will be discussed as part of the Our Singapore Conversation on housing issues.  - CNA/ac/al

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