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Old 12-07-2003, 10:46 AM   #1
sunsetbay
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HDB correspondence on public newsletters

well, i think it will be informative if we consolidate all the published newsletter concerning on HDB issues. let's start today onward. here's one...

Extract fm ST, 12 July 2003

Bigger resale flats, please

I REFER to the report, ' 'Downgraders' drive up HDB resale prices' (ST, July 2). While it is true that downgraders may have helped to push up the prices of three-room Housing Board resale flats, the main reason is the increasing number of singles above 35 who are eligible to buy these flats.

Two years ago, a resale three-room corner flat in Holland Village cost $168,000. Now that HDB has allowed singles to buy resale flats in inner-urban areas, prices have shot up to more than $200,000. Some sellers are taking advantage of the fact that singles are not allowed to purchase larger flats and are asking for between $230,000 and $265,000 for areas in Marine Parade and Holland Village.

Prices of resale three-room 'modified corner' flats are now comparable with those of some four-room models.

It is time for HDB to moderate the prices of resale three-room flats before they shoot up to unrealistic levels.

Those who bought resale five-room and executive apartments at peak prices of between $500,000 and $650,000 are now suffering paper losses of up to $200,000. HDB should not allow history to repeat itself.

The housing authority can help to ease the pressure on prices of three-room resale flats by lifting restrictions on the resale of four-room, five-room and executive apartments to singles.

This would benefit not only singles but also downgraders and sellers of the larger flats who now have difficulty selling their flats due to low demand for larger units. HDB has consistently maintained that its housing policy is pro-family and that it supports the Government's social policy on family formation and procreation.

However, statistics on marriages and birth rates published earlier this year by The Straits Times have clearly indicated that HDB's pro-family policy is no longer effective.

Birth rates have declined for the past 10 years and marriages have also not increased signi-ficantly.

There are about 10,000 new flats which have not been taken up. This is a clear indication that a new flat will no longer entice singles to get married. Those who may eventually get married at a late age have also admitted that they are unlikely to have kids.

Unlike the 6 to 9 per cent of our married population who can choose not to procreate, most singles do not choose to remain single by choice. Why should they be 'penalised'?

HDB has to understand that singles have their own problems and needs. Just like their married counterparts, singles also require their own space and privacy. When one can afford to buy a bigger flat but not a private apartment, one should not be confined to a three-room resale flat.

Yes, I think no one will dispute that society should remain pro-family. However, this does not necessarily mean that singles should be discriminated against in public housing.

Pro-family policies should focus on giving fiscal incentives for marriages and procreation, without taking anything away from singles. Schemes like the baby bonus, tax relief for the third and fourth child and subsidies for childcare are some of the creative ways to boost family formation.

How can one be rooted here when the Government continues to discriminate against singles and does not allow them to buy a new flat direct from HDB, or to own a bigger resale flat? Singles cannot have a sense of belonging or passion for this country if they are not treated equally.

As Singapore seeks new ways to remake itself, the Govern-ment must recognise the aspiration and need of singles to own bigger homes. Singles should not be perceived as second-class citizens whose only means of getting round the discriminatory housing policy is to get married.

CHEW CHEE MENG
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