Forum: HDB subsidies are state resources that should be used fairly

Straits Times editor-at-large Han Fook Kwang's article, "Why Government should stick to hands-off policy on HDB sellers' profits" (July 25), warrants a rebuttal on several points.

First, he mentioned that a capital gains tax on only Housing Board flats is unfair since there is no such tax on private property or stock market transactions.

But private property and stock market transactions are not funded by any state subsidies, unlike subsidised HDB flats, which are meant to provide affordable housing to Singaporeans who need it. These flats should not be made into lottery machines.

Second, Mr Han cited an extreme example of a person from a poor family who has received substantial state subsidies, and questioned if the Government should claw back the money if the person does well later in life.

This is not a good example as the poor person would have put in hard work to do well later in life. But this need not be the case for an HDB "lottery winner".

Third, Mr Han said that the Government is not a property speculator and has no business trying to identify which group might be most likely to enjoy windfall profits and how to claw them back.

As HDB subsidies are funded by state resources, I think that it is the Government's business to ensure equitable use of these resources.

While Mr Han has rightly pointed out that it is no easy task to figure out how flat prices will increase in future and in which precincts, my call is for the authorities to impose some form of lottery tax on the sale of all subsidised HDB flats.

Perhaps a sliding tax scale tied to the occupation period could be considered to stem speculation, which should not be happening in the public housing arena.

Karen Yip Lai Kham