Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Is Public Housing a home or to speculate and make money?

13th March 2013

MND Minister Khaw Boon Wan

The announcement by Boon Wan on the back to basics public housing policy is a move in the right direction and will be most welcomed by the people. The objectives of public housing have been altered through the years by shallow thinking people that have forgotten why it was called public housing in the first place that it is best forgotten. Let’s get the basics right.

Public housing is for the citizens, the majority of whom that needs a roof over their heads, a place to rest and bring up children, a place to go home to. When getting a place to sleep is getting so expensive, it is going to make life very difficult to many people as not everyone is so bless to have so much money to pay for housing.

Boon Wan is calling for more feedbacks given the complexities of housing as a home, as an asset, as a fall back to be liquidated to release some funds for retirement, and a host of other purposes. What I would suggest is to go back to basics and simplicity. The priority is to make housing affordable, I mean really and reasonably affordable to the average citizens, and make the right to ownership simple. Some rules are still necessary but need not be so exclusive and demanding.

First principle, all Singaporeans must be allowed to buy a public flat. Everyone needs a place to stay, especially when you are a citizen.

Second principle, build to ensure the supply is enough to meet the demand and not like those thoughtless people who created the demand supply problem that led to the big angst among the people and a property bubble.

Third principle, provide a buffet spread and let the people decide what they want or can afford to buy. Let the people make their own choice and not dictate the choice on the people.

Fourth principle, when supply is adequate to meet demand, there is no need for all the exclusivity clauses to give impression that the higher income buyers are depriving the lower income earners of their chances. This wicked divisive idea to pitch the people against one another must be removed. Every citizen, regardless of income level, is entitled to buy his public flat within a simpler framework of rules and regulations.

Fifth principle, PRs are not eligible to buy public housing. However, they can rent from the citizens or HDB can build rental flats for them. PRs can go to the private property market if they can afford it. But to prevent a big bubble in private property prices, foreigners, including PRs, can only buy to stay and not for speculation. Given the limited space available, it is necessary to have sound regulations to prevent non citizens from churning the property market to raise the cost of living here. Many of the restrictions on foreign ownership of properties should stay and more be introduced to keep the property market under control.

Sixth principle, the speculative element in public housing should be minimised. When there is adequate supply, public housing prices should be stable.

But, as they all said, how real is Boon Wan and his return to basics? Wait for the fine prints. Hopefully cheaper public housing would not compromise on the size and quality of the flats. Please, no reduction in the lease period or things like can see back to HDB or any profits must return to HDB.

Source: Chua Chin Leng aka RedBean on My Singapore News.

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