Make monetising HDB flats a more attractive option for seniors

Mr Paul Chan Poh Hoi put forward a case for increased subsidies from the Government for the pioneers ("Help pioneers struggling with retirement funds"; Nov 14).

There is a more practical, long-term solution to the problem.

Pioneers are not completely left behind, with the growth of Singapore's economy.

One major means of savings pioneers enjoyed was the price of their housing.

These residences were purchased with yesterday's dollars, but their values increased along with inflation and the growth of our economy.

The real problem facing pioneers is that most are "asset rich, cash poor".

For my own retirement funding,

I monetised my private residence 10 years ago by mortgaging it to a bank. This has generated enough income to supplement my daily retirement expenses for the last decade.

But HDB dwellers are not at liberty to do likewise because the Housing Board is deemed the owner and the people are lessors only. They have only the Lease Buyback Scheme to turn to if they wish to use their residence to raise any cash.

However, the scheme is not attractive, and I previously made a case to improve it ("Current offer not a good deal"; Sept 2, 2014).

If the HDB and financial institutions would treat HDB flats as private property collateral in obtaining a realistic commercial value, we would instantly solve the Central Provident Fund inadequacy problem.

This would also help retirees who missed out on the Pioneer Generation Package because of their age.

This can be one "out-of-the-box" initiative to help the average "asset-rich, cash poor" retiree draw a long-term income.

Geoffrey Kung Kuo-Woo

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 25, 2015, with the headline Make monetising HDB flats a more attractive option for seniors. Subscribe