New HDB flats for singles?

The Government is studying whether singles can buy flats directly from the Housing Board, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong hinted on Sunday.

Currently, singles, and only those aged 35 and above, can buy resale HDB flats and use government grants. They cannot buy new flats directly from the HDB.

But with resale flat prices rising, it has caused concern as singles find buying a home increasingly unaffordable. "It is something on the minds of many Singaporeans, because the singles numbers have gone up," he said.

"I fully understand these concerns. I should say MND (Ministry of National Development) also fully understands the concerns. And I should also say (National Development Minister) Khaw Boon Wan is looking actively at the matter," he said to applause.

Mr Lee was addressing what the Government is doing to address current concerns over housing, as well as jobs, transportation and health care, in his National Day Rally speech.

The Government is looking to cut the waiting time needed to book HDB flats, and has been launching new HDB flats.

"I am confident nearly every Singaporean household can afford their own home. We have done it before and we can do it again," he said.

He added that he is confident there is enough space to accommodate an expanding population through developing more housing estates and reclaiming more land in the long run.

The Government is also tackling problems related to jobs and infrastructure, Mr Lee said.

It is bringing in new investments to create new and better jobs. The new Singapore-Industry Scholarship, for example, has already sponsored 90 Singaporeans who go to university and then work in a local firm, he said.

It is also investing $60 billion over 10 years in building up the train transportation network, and building more hospitals, nursing homes and day care centres.

On transport, he said that while the long-term investment was being laid out, new bus services will start being rolled out from next month to ease the crunch.

ROBIN CHAN