Housing is a hot topic in the 2011 General Elections. Here is a compilation of the various party views regarding the matter.
PEOPLE’S ACTION PARTY (PAP)
Pretty much thinks they have done a good job so far.
• Help lower income Singaporeans own their homes through the Additional Housing Grants and the new Special Housing Grants, and provide them more housing options including two-room flats
• Provide new, high-quality and affordable HDB homes
• Upgrade and preserve the value of older homes and estates
• Give entire towns a fresh makeover through the Remaking Our Heartlands programme, including new sports facilities and better parks
• Lift Upgrading Programme (LUP) to be completed by 2014
• Home Improvement Programme (HIP), including ceiling repairs and new toilets, pipes and doors
• Neighbourhood Renewal Programme (NRP) provides playgrounds and exercise facilities, covered walkways and drop-off porches, and residents’ corners and seating areas.
• Estate Upgrading Programme (EUP), which includes wider footpaths, better drainage and furniture and play equipment for parks. (PAP Manifesto, Pg3,8,9)
WORKER’S PARTY (WP)
The surge of immigrants in 07/08 and the lack of foresight of the PAP government in providing sufficient housing pretty much cost the rapid increase in HDB prices. This lead to a strain on many Singaporeans in need of housing, which lead to some couples deferring childbearing.
Does not agree on the PAP government definition of affordable HDB as using less than 30% income to pay for mortgage, because for most, this means paying 30% over 30 years, which leaves very little disposable income for other purposes.
• New HDB flat should not be pegged to resale market price. Instead it should be pegged to median incomes of Singaporean households to ensure that new flats are always affordable for majority of Singaporeans.
• Price of new HDB should be affordable enough to pay off in 20 years instead of 30.
• PRs should only be allowed to buy resale flats if they have been PRs for at least 3 years.
• HDB should be fully transparent about costs of new flat.
• HDB policies should be adjusted to prevent speculative use.
• Relevant ministries should plan properly to ensure sufficient housing supply.
• HDB rules of rental should be more flexible and cater to families who are financially straitened. Number of rental flats should be increased.
• Ethnic quotas should be removed to allow freedom of choice of location of all Singaporeans, and to allow minority races to live near their parents.
• HDB Lease Buyback Scheme should be reviewed and extended to more households, including 4 room or larger flats. Better public education for the elderly about scheme.
• Housing Tribunal to be set up to handle disputes between HDB and flat lesses.
(WP Manifesto, Pg 39-40)
NATIONAL SOLIDARITY PARTY (NSP)
– Lower prices for first time buyers of new HDB flats
– More compassionate rules and regulations to avoid homelessness
– Upgrading for you no matter which way you vote
• New Flats to be sold at discount to first time buyers (ie. slightly above cost of building flat + discounted land price).
• More HDB Flats needs to be built to support growing population and shorten waiting time. High prices and long waits are directly impacting our total fertility rate (TFR) by delaying marriages and having children.
• A total review of HDB rules and regulations that make it difficult for Singaporeans to continue to have a roof over their heads when they run into problems financially, or their families break up.
• PRs must hold their HDB flats for a minimum period of 8 years. If they wish to sell before that, they must sell their HDB flats back to HDB at prices based on the lower of market price or cost price (the price at which they bought the flats) plus interest.
• Upgrading of HDB flats to be delinked from votes. It is highly unethical to use public funds to gain political advantage. Our party’s interest is subservient to Singaporeans’ interest. Upgrading decisions should be made based on the condition of the building.
• Due consideration must be given to the social cost of maintaining high HDB prices and the longer term economic cost of a rapidly aging population. (NSP Manifesto, Pg4)
SINGAPORE DEMOCRATIC PARTY (SDP)
• Reduce the cost of HDB flats
• PAP says flats are affordable, yet proposes older couples to take out a reverse mortgage or to ‘trade down to a small unit’ to finance their retirement
• With a growing number of retirees, should they unload their units in search of smaller ones, the surge in supply will cause prices to tumble.
• HDB has a limited lifespan of 99 years, and will begin to depreciate after the initial few decades.
• Older flats will be in lesser demand when newer models are built
• Should an economic downturn occur, such as that in ’74, ’85, and ’97, retirees won’t have much room for manoeuvre.
• PAP must be accountable for price of HDB flats, and be transparent – give a breakdown on actual costs. Having high cost of land enables the government to enrich itself at the expense of the people and their CPF savings. Such price fixing of flats also distorts the property market and has the tendency to cause macro-economic instability.
• The root of the problem lies in the PAP’s decision to turn CPF savings into a housing finance scheme. When it allowed CPF members to withdraw their compulsory savings for the purchase of HDB flats, the people—motivated by their distrust of the government in returning them their savings when they retire—did so with a vengeance. This suited the PAP just fine because as the funds flowed from the CPF into the HDB, the government consolidated its role as banker, property developer, and landlord. This gave it unbridled power over the economic and social activities of the citizens. The government continues to cajole and compel Singaporeans to sink even more of their savings into upgrading their flats or move into bigger ones. (Manifesto, Social Security)
• Providing Cheaper and Better Lower-Income Housing by releasing more land for house-building and allowing the private sector a greater role. (RP Election Manifesto)