Government files motion to affirm commitment to affordable housing; Parliament debate to be held Feb 6

The Government is dedicated to keep public housing affordable and accessible, said Senior Minister of State for National Development Sim Ann.

Fitri Mahad

Probably the only person that likes to hear the koels go ‘uwu’.

Published: 31 January 2023, 5:17 PM

A debate on the affordability and accessibility of public housing in Singapore is expected in the next sitting of Parliament on Feb 6 after a motion was filed by Minister for National Development Desmond Lee. 

In a Facebook post on Monday (Jan 30), Senior Minister of State for National Development Sim Ann said that the motion will discuss “protecting the interests of both current and future generations of Singaporeans”. She also asked for Parliament to “endorse the Government’s commitment” to both goals.

Ms Sim’s was referring to a motion passed by Non-Constituency Members of Parliament (NCMP) Hazel Poa Koon Koon and Leong Mun Wai of the Progress Singapore Party (PSP). But she pointed out that “the two (motions) are not really the same”.

According to Mr Leong’s post, the motion filed by him on Jan 20 “calls upon the Government to review its housing policies”. It cites reasons such as delivering affordable and accessible HDB flats to all Singaporeans, strengthening owner-occupation intent of public housing, protecting retirement adequacy and keeping public housing inclusive to every Singaporean of each generation.

Mr Leong also clarified his opinion on the pricing of Housing Development Board (HDB) flats, saying it should “only account for construction costs and price differences between locations”.

In response, Ms Ann wrote in her post: “Implicit in the PSP’s motion is the claim that the Government has not done enough to deliver affordable and accessible HDB flats, strengthen the owner-occupation intent of public housing, protect retirement adequacy or keep public housing inclusive. We disagree with this claim.” 

She added that the Parliament will look to “debunk spurious claims” and hear constructive views and suggestions on how Singapore can continue to fulfil the home ownership aspirations of its citizens now and in the future. 

Mr Leong had initially raised his concerns on affordable housing in a Facebook post on Dec 8, following HDB’s statement on land and construction costs. He argued that land costs “should be taken out of the picture”. 

In response, Ms Ann wrote on Dec 11 that measures of lowering BTO costs to the extent of disregarding land costs would end up “hurting all Singaporeans, instead of helping them.”

Following the exchange, Ms Ann invited Mr Leong in a Facebook post on Dec 20 to “go beyond social media posts and file a motion in Parliament”.

HDB also clarified that the difference in prices between resale flats and subsidised flats reflect the market subsidies provided for new flats after accounting for differences in attributes.

Housing affordability has remained among the top concerns for Singaporeans. In a poll conducted by the National Youth Council last September, 57 percent of 1,000  respondents said affordability is a top priority when it comes to purchasing a HDB flat. 

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