SINGAPORE - About 21 per cent of households successfully appealed for a waiver of the Ethnic Integration Policy (EIP) on their Housing Board flats last year, up from 14 per cent in 2018.
Last year, the HDB received 500 such appeals, with more appeals coming from sellers from the minority races.
The 500 appeals made up around 2 per cent of the 23,100 resale applications filed in the whole of last year.
National Development Minister Desmond Lee gave these figures in Parliament on Monday (July 5), in response to Ms Cheryl Chan (East Coast GRC) who asked about help given to minority sellers who may face difficulties in selling their flats due to the EIP.
Introduced in 1989, the EIP sets racial quotas on flat ownership within each HDB block and neighbourhood.
Me Lee acknowledged that the EIP is an "intrusive social policy" with "rough edges" that may cause difficulties for some owners looking to sell their flats.
For instance, when the EIP limits are reached for an ethnic group, sellers from other ethnic groups are unable to sell to buyers of that group.
With a reduced pool of eligible buyers, sellers may then have to lower their asking price or take a long time to sell their flats, said Mr Lee.
But he noted that in these cases, the buyers would benefit from a lower resale price, and thus be less affected should they sell the flat in future.
"But I understand that this brings little comfort to affected sellers - particularly those who bought the flat from HDB, or on the resale market before the EIP limits were reached, and yet are now caught by the EIP limits," he said.
Mr Lee said the HDB has been exercising flexibility for home owners constrained by the EIP, on a case-by-case basis.
This includes giving them sellers more time to sell their flats, or even waiving the EIP limits if there are exceptional circumstances.
"However, whenever HDB waives EIP limits to address its impact on certain households, it is mindful that this may lead to even higher imbalances in the concentrations of certain ethnic groups in some areas," he said.
"The EIP is by no means the perfect tool, nor the only tool to promote racial harmony. We are very conscious of the trade-offs and will keep working to smoothen its sharper edges."