Time to relook paradigm on public housing

HDB flats in Toa Payoh, on Feb 1, 2019. PHOTO: ST FILE

Forum writer Soo Weng Keong rightly pointed out that public housing is a form of social spending which is funded by taxpayers (Govt subsidy should not go to luxury seafront homes, Aug 30).

The Government has announced that the goods and services tax will be raised from 7 per cent to 9 per cent some time between 2021 and 2025.

Notwithstanding that, the Government has reaffirmed its commitment to make public housing affordable and accessible for Singaporeans. Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong said it would take effect from this month (First-time buyers of HDB flats to get more help soon, Aug 21).

With this and the ongoing discussion on the lottery effect of some coveted HDB flats, it's time we relooked the paradigm on public housing.

The crux of the issue is that generous subsidies are dispensed by the Government and this should solely be for the purpose of owner-occupation.

If an HDB flat is not used for owner-occupation, like when it is sold or rented out, it is only fair to taxpayers that the initial subsidies disbursed should be clawed back in the form of capital gains tax following a sale, and a hefty property tax when it is rented out.

In order for our resources to be fairly distributed and sustainable for future generations, we have to ingrain in our mindset that the Government's primary responsibility is to provide ample and affordable flats for owner-occupation only, and not for citizens to reap a profit at taxpayers' expense.

Singaporeans who wish to invest, profit or get a rental income from property should do so in the private property market where zero government subsidies are disbursed.

Lee Yong Se

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 03, 2019, with the headline Time to relook paradigm on public housing. Subscribe