Khaw hints at changes to EC scheme

There is "something wrong somewhere" with the Executive Condominium (EC) scheme, said National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan on Thursday, and the scheme cannot carry on in its current form.

Speaking to 40 participants at an evening session of the Our Singapore Conversation (OSC) dialogue on housing, Mr Khaw said that there is "a sense of inequity" at the profit that EC buyers can make when reselling their units. First-time buyers of both ECs and Build-to-Order (BTO) flats get grants from Housing Board (HDB) to offset the price of their units, the size of which depends on their income.

But the "upside in the property market" gives EC-owners a far higher profit upon resale than the average three-room flat owner, noted Mr Khaw. This translates into "a sense of inequity, that the lower-income is getting less subsidy". This goes against the principle that HDB's subsidies should be progressive, and that the lower-income should get more, he said.

ECs are marketed and built by private developers, rather than HDB, and the income ceiling is $12,000, rather than $10,000 for a BTO flat. After 10 years, ECs become private property and can be sold to foreigners. Mr Khaw said that he hoped that "clarity and a conclusion" on how to tweak the EC scheme can be found through the ongoing OSC sessions on housing.