The Government is raising the supply of rental flats further to 60,000, after already raising it to 50,000 last year, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for National Development Maliki Osman said on Monday during the debate on Budget 2013.
The new target is up from the Government's former promise to build 57,000 rental flats by 2015.
Responding to MPs' concerns, Dr Maliki said the public rental scheme has rules to help the vulnerable "while ensuring that we do not encourage imprudent behaviour or erode the work ethic." But in applying the rules, the Government will consider the merits of each case and exercise flexibility and compassion, he added.
Dr Maliki also noted that although market rents have risen significantly, the Government has not adjusted the public rental structure since 2006 and has no plans to do so.
As for MPs' calls to let more qualify for rental flats, Dr Maliki said the Government will continue to review their rules from time to time, and will be sympathetic in applying the rules.
For instance, though there is an income ceiling of $1,500 a month, the Government looks at each case and is prepared to offer rental flats to those in financial difficulties even if their income is above that level, he said.
Workers' Party MP Lee Li Lian (Punggol East) noted that there were 11,736 foreign spouses on Long Term Visit Passes here who are disqualified from getting rental flats, and that many such families are needy. She asked under what conditions rental flats have been given to Singapore citizen with foreign spouses.
To that, Dr Maliki said that only Singapore citizen households qualify because rental flats are heavily subsidised. "We recognise the needs of low-income citizens with foreign spouses, and do consider them on a case by case basis, but the priority goes to Singaporeans," he said.