HDB's deficit fell to $2.34b as fewer units completed, dip in upgrading works

Reduced upgrading work also helped shrink the deficit, noted the HDB's annual report on Oct 14, 2021.
Reduced upgrading work also helped shrink the deficit, noted the HDB's annual report on Oct 14, 2021.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

SINGAPORE - The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted the Housing Board's bottom line by reducing the amount of red ink on its balance sheet in the latest financial year.

Its deficit fell to $2.34 billion for the 12 months to March 31 from $2.66 billion in the previous year.

This was because fewer units were handed over to buyers throughout the year, as construction work was hampered by the pandemic.

New flats are heavily subsidised by the HDB so fewer completed flats translate to a smaller outlay.

Reduced upgrading work also helped shrink the deficit, noted the HDB's annual report on Thursday (Oct 14).

However, more Central Provident Fund (CPF) housing grants, rental rebates and suspension of late payment charges on mortgage arrears were given out to assist households throughout the year.

The HDB recorded a deficit of $2.64 billion in its housing programmes, offset by a $303 million surplus from other activities, such as rental income. 

There were 8,124 units completed and delivered to buyers, down from 11,609 the year earlier, due mainly to construction suspensions in the two-month-long circuit breaker in 2020 and the gradual resumption of work after measures were lifted.

The deficit for upgrading existing flats also fell, from $440 million to $242 million.

There was $791 million disbursed in CPF housing grants to buyers of resale flats and executive condominiums, up from $631 million in the previous financial year.

Help for households living in rental flats such as rent rebates and suspension of late payment charges came in at $125 million, compared with $115 million the previous year.

The HDB also suspended more late payment charges for owners who had difficulties paying home loans on time.

Its deficit in this area was $31 million compared with $21 million the previous year.

The Finance Ministry grant that the HDB receives every year to offset its deficit was $2.34 billion compared with $2.69 billion in the previous year.

The cumulative government grants provided to the HDB since its establishment in 1960 now stand at $38.57 billion.

Around 80 per cent of Singapore's resident population live in HDB flats, with about 90 per cent of these owning their homes.

Lingering construction disruptions due to the pandemic have led to lengthy delays for buyers in Build-To-Order (BTO) projects.

The pandemic has meant the completion of most BTO flats has been delayed by up to six months with some put back by seven to 10 months.

The waiting time for a standard BTO project from booking to collecting the keys was about three to four years before the pandemic, but this has now blown out to just over four years.