Pritam says Government has not adequately acknowledged people’s anxieties on housing

Feb 08, 2023 | 🚀 Fathership AI

Leader of the Opposition and Workers’ Party (WP) chief Pritam Singh suggested that the ruling party had not adequately acknowledged people’s anxieties about the affordability and accessibility of HDB flats, as he proposed an amendment to a motion on public housing. The House debated two motions on the subject for some 12 hours over Monday and Tuesday.

Mr Singh asked if “the current anxieties of Singaporeans do not warrant greater effort by the PAP government to review its commitment to affordability and accessibility”, while National Development Minister Desmond Lee called on the House to affirm the importance of keeping public housing affordable and accessible. On the other hand, Leong Mun Wai and Hazel Poa of the Progress Singapore Party (PSP) called on the Government to review and fix its housing policies.

Mr Singh said that the People’s Action Party (PAP) motion as drafted did not sufficiently take into account the reality that the government should work harder to make Housing Board flats and Build-To-Order (BTO) flats more affordable and more accessible. He proposed a change to the motion, calling on the House to affirm the importance of keeping public housing affordable and accessible and calling on the government to intensify its efforts to meet these twin goals.

Minister Lee responded that the government was in no way suggesting that its housing policy is perfect and has been continuously working to make things better. However, the House rejected the changes proposed by Mr Singh.

During the debate, the PSP NCMPs proposed an Affordable Homes Scheme, which came under criticism from both ministers and ruling party backbenchers, as well as Nominated MPs, with many who spoke saying the proposal would erode the country’s reserves. Mr Singh said there was scope to take a “different, more enlightened view about land costs” to make public housing more affordable and asked the government to be more transparent about how cost of land factors into HDB prices.

He also questioned if the government’s practice of giving subsidies to make flats more affordable could impact fairness and equity, since such subsidies are not the same across BTO developments. He said the HDB should be able to disclose the subsidies for each project and if BTO flats in mature estates benefit from more subsidies than those in non-mature estates, there would be an impact on equitability.

Source: The Straits Times

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