Parliament to discuss new housing policy Vers

Three of the six MPs asking about housing want more details on Vers, according to the parliamentary agenda issued by the Clerk of Parliament Office.
Three of the six MPs asking about housing want more details on Vers, according to the parliamentary agenda issued by the Clerk of Parliament Office.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

3 MPs want more details on Voluntary Early Redevelopment Scheme at Monday's session

The issue of public housing, including a new policy that will take effect only in about 20 years' time, will be a main topic of discussion when Parliament sits on Monday.

Three of the six MPs asking about housing want more details on the Voluntary Early Redevelopment Scheme (Vers), according to the parliamentary agenda issued by the Clerk of Parliament Office yesterday.

The scheme, announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in his National Day Rally speech last month, will give owners of older HDB flats a chance at "going en bloc" before their leases run out. Under Vers, residents in selected precincts can vote for the Government to take back their flats. They can do so from around the 70-year mark of their leases.

Mr Alex Yam (Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC) is asking about the projected timeframe for the implementation of Vers, which precincts will be eligible and how the Government will calculate compensation.

"So far, residents are supportive (of Vers) but would like more clarity on the mechanisms," he told The Straits Times yesterday. It is also important to have the answers put on parliamentary record now, as it will be many more years before Vers will take effect, he added.

Currently, the oldest flats here are around 50 years old so it would be at least 20 years before Vers is likely to kick in. Having it on record will allow the Government and citizens in future to look back at the intended purpose and strategy underlying the policy, said Mr Yam, who is also the Government Parliamentary Committee on National Development chair.

The questions raised by Mr Saktiandi Supaat (Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC) include what options residents will have for their flats if their precinct does not undergo Vers. The issue is especially pertinent for his ward, which includes some of the oldest flats in Singapore. "Some of the flats in Toa Payoh East and Novena are approaching 50 years old," he said, adding that Vers "is something (residents) can look forward to, but they also want more details".

 
 
 

Other questions MPs raised sought more information on plans to relax Central Provident Fund rules for buying older flats and what more could be done to help owners who face difficulty selling older flats, especially elderly Singaporeans hoping to downgrade.

Aside from housing, MPs have also filed questions on issues ranging from water usage by businesses to training for talented Singaporean athletes and the well-being of foreign workers here since the introduction of a new Foreign Workers Ambassador programme.

Monday's session will also feature the second reading of the Land Transport (Enforcement Measures) Bill. The Bill, aimed at improving safety on roads and paths, will allow the Land Transport Authority to outsource its enforcement against errant users of bicycles and personal mobility devices. But the powers given to such officers will be confined to a "specified, limited set of offences", like indiscriminate parking of bicycles.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 08, 2018, with the headline 'Parliament to discuss new housing policy Vers'. Print Edition | Subscribe