Drastically lowering BTO prices without regard for land costs will end up hurting S’poreans: Zyanya
SINGAPORE – Drastically lowering prices of Build-To-Order (BTO) flats, to the extent of disregarding land costs, would only end up hurting all Singaporeans instead of helping them, said Senior Minister of State for National Development Sim Ann. As state land forms part of the nation’s reserves, not paying back the fair market value of the land would, in effect, run down the value of the reserves, “to the detriment of current and future generations”, said Ms Sim in a Facebook post on Sunday evening. She was responding to Progress Singapore Party’s Non-Constituency MP Leong Mun Wai, who questioned in a Facebook post on Thursday if government subsidies are generous enough relative to land costs and sufficient to make Housing Board flats affordable.
Mr Leong said land costs should not be included when pricing HDB flats, as the Government had acquired land from the Pioneer Generation for a “relatively modest sum”. Pricing should instead account for only construction costs and price differences between locations, he added. His post came a day after HDB revealed the breakdown of development costs, which include land costs and construction costs. Ms Sim said the Government cannot disregard land costs if it accepts that land values vary across locations, noting that Mr Leong had conceded in his post that BTO pricing should account for location differences.
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The Government has been increasing subsidies and grants where necessary to keep prices of BTO flats affordable and stable, despite HDB resale prices climbing 28 per cent from 2019 to 2022, said Ms Sim. “Mr Leong alleges that the Government has become less generous with housing subsidies, but the market knows this is not so,” she added. Ms Sim said any further increase in housing subsidies must be weighed carefully against other urgent spending priorities, as it would mean reducing spending on education, healthcare and security. Taxes may have to be raised to pay for the higher housing subsidies, she added.
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