The Straits Times
Published on Dec 13, 2012

Merge high-end public housing


THE Government's well-meaning intention to subsidise young couples in the 1990s with executive condominium (EC) housing occurred against the backdrop of high economic growth.

It has been another uniquely Singapore success story, judging from the records in resale transaction prices.

Demand for EC housing has increased steadily in the past few years, amid asset inflation. The momentum has taken on a more frenzied pace, culminating in the recent high-profile launches of The Topiary and CityLife @ Tampines projects.

The past EC beneficiaries have been catapulted into the galaxy of condominium living in the Outside Central Region areas. The EC has since been a premier sanctuary for subsidised heartlanders. The quantum of subsidy per plot ratio rises with every new EC land sale.

With the revised 2 per cent annual gross domestic product growth target and a fast-ageing population, can our economy continue to guarantee a subsidised condominium unit to each budding middle-income family?

It may be appropriate to merge the DBSS (Design, Build and Sell Scheme) and the EC into a new scheme to rein in the projected cost.

A hybrid scheme with no-frills facilities could still be tantalising if it retains the best features of its predecessors.

The EC has a higher income ceiling, a security boundary, strata titles and becomes privatised after 10 years, while DBSS offers the same quality housing finishes and a lower operating cost.

This could be one pre-emptive austerity measure in our premier segment of public housing.

George Seah