Speech by Minister Desmond Lee at the Committee of Supply Debate in Parliament

Mar 5, 2024

Building Our Collective Home


1. Chairman, I thank Members for their cuts.

2. I will speak on housing, and our efforts to transform the Built Environment sector.

3. My colleague Minister Indranee Rajah will cover our long-term planning, sustainable development, and our support for our construction firms.

4. SMS Sim Ann will touch on how we are working alongside residents and our community partners to improve our living environment.

5. SMS Tan Kiat How will share about our efforts to transform Singapore into a City in Nature.

6. And my colleague MOS Faishal Ibrahim will speak on what we are doing for low-income households and our seniors.

Meeting Singaporeans' Homeownership Aspirations

7. So, let’s start with housing.

8.  We are firmly committed to supporting Singaporeans’ aspirations to own their own homes, and determined that we shall remain a nation of home-owners.

a. HDB started selling subsidised flats to Singaporeans in 1964, under the Home Ownership Scheme.

b. Today, 80% of our people live in HDB flats, of whom 90% own their own homes.

c. During our Forward Singapore engagements, Singaporeans told us clearly that homeownership remains a key aspiration.

d. So we will honour this commitment, and ensure that there are housing options for every budget and need.

9. Now, members will recall the significant impact that COVID-19 had on our construction sector as well as on our housing market.

a. There were many unprecedented supply disruptions and labour shortages, causing widespread delays.

b. We also saw very strong housing demand.

c. This resulted in an imbalance in demand and supply, pushing up housing prices and rents. Application rates for new HDB flats rose to a peak.

10. To address this imbalance, we committed back in 2021 to launching 100,000 new flats by 2025.

a. As of February this year, we have launched more than 67,000 flats – or two-thirds of our commitment. We are well on track to meeting our 2025 target.

11. We have also ramped up private housing supply.

a. In 2023 alone, we launched 9,250 units under the Government Land Sales Programme, or GLS scheme. This was the highest annual supply in the last ten years.

b. And for the first half of this year, 2024, we released land for 5,450 private homes on the Confirmed List. This is the highest supply on the Confirmed List in a single GLS Programme in over ten years.

c. We are watching the market carefully, and are prepared to inject even more housing supply if necessary to meet demand.

12. Across the public and private housing markets, a significant number of new homes have been completed.

a. Last year, around 43,000 homes were completed. This is the largest in a single year since 2018.

13. In parallel, we implemented three rounds of cooling measures since December 2021 to moderate housing demand, and to encourage greater financial prudence among homebuyers.

14. Our property market is stabilising.

a. HDB resale prices rose 4.9% last year, less than half of the 10.4% increase the year before, in 2022.

b. Price growth in the private residential market has also moderated, from 8.6% in 2022, down to 6.8% in 2023.

c. BTO application rates went down, from a high of 5.8 applications per flat in 2020, to 2.9 applications per flat last year.

d. Transaction volume in the private property market in 2023 declined by 13% compared to 2022, and is at its lowest since 2016.

15. Rents are also stabilising.

a. The quarterly increase in public housing rents moderated to 0.4% in the fourth quarter of last year, down from 1.9% in the third quarter of last year.

b. Private housing rents fell by 2.1% quarter-over-quarter in the fourth quarter of 2023. This was the first quarterly decline in over three years.

16. We expect the housing market to continue to stabilise this year.

a. We will continue to launch a steady supply of new homes in various locations, so that there is a home for every budget and need.

b. Amidst persisting economic uncertainties, geopolitical tensions and higher interest rates, we encourage buyers to be prudent in their home purchases, to avoid over-extending themselves.

Land Planning and New Housing Sites

17. Let me now touch on how we will meet housing demand in the years ahead.

18. Ms Cheryl Chan asked how we will plan to address growing near-term needs.

a. We are developing greenfield sites and brownfield areas, some of which have potential heritage significance.

b. In doing so, we take great care to retain our identity and collective social memories.

c. If we foresee major impact on sites with significant heritage, we will carry out studies in consultation with key stakeholders.

d. We also pay attention to the environmental impact of these developments and carry out studies to minimise such impact. 

19. So far, we have announced our plans to build new housing in various locations, including in more central parts of Singapore, such as Pearl’s Hill, Mount Pleasant, Bukit Timah Turf City, and the former Keppel Golf course.

20. Today, I would like to share our plans for another two areas.

21. The first is Chencharu, in Yishun.

a. With its development as a new housing area, we will provide more new homes and amenities in Yishun.

b. We will build a variety of recreational, community and commercial facilities to bring greater convenience to residents, while adding vibrancy to Yishun town. These will complement existing facilities at Khatib Central and HomeTeam NS Khatib.

c. Future residents in Chencharu will be served by Khatib MRT, and other connectivity initiatives.

22. We will launch the first BTO project of around 1,200 flats in June this year.

a. Over time, we plan to build around 10,000 homes in Chencharu, at least 80% of which will be public housing.

b. This will provide a sizeable supply of new homes, particularly for those who wish to live near their parents in the area.

23. The second area we are developing plans for is Gillman Barracks, in Telok Blangah.

a. Gillman Barracks has a storied history and is home to former colonial military buildings.

b. Many of the former barracks are currently tenanted out for interim uses, with tenancies expiring progressively by 2030.

c. We are studying the possibility of redeveloping the site for a mix of public and private housing.

d. Besides providing more opportunities for Singaporeans to live closer to the city centre, the new residential neighbourhood can build on the character and charm of the former colonial buildings.

e. Residents will also have easy access to green and recreational spaces such as the Southern Ridges and Labrador Nature Park Network.

f. We will start environmental and heritage studies in the second quarter of this year. These will help us better understand the ecological and heritage significance of the site, and to plan sensitively for its development.

g. More details will be shared when ready.

24. As always, we will share our plans with Singaporeans, and hear your feedback and suggestions.

a. My colleague Minister Indranee will elaborate on our efforts later.

25. Now, we have been announcing new housing sites at a steady clip.

a. This is underpinned by our long-term approach towards land use and infrastructure planning. 

b. In doing so, we adopt various long-term strategies to optimise and to steward our very limited land.

c. For example, we are studying major moves like the development of Long Island to tackle rising sea levels, while creating new land and opportunities.

d. We are also freeing up land for redevelopment, such as through the relocation of Paya Lebar Airbase. 

e. At the heart of these plans is the Government’s commitment that public housing remains affordable, inclusive and fair for all Singaporeans.

f. And that Singapore remains a vibrant city, an endearing community, and a cherished home for all.

Charting The Future of Public Housing

26. Beyond developing a steady supply of homes, we have also made major changes to our public housing system to ensure that it remains affordable and accessible for Singaporeans.

a. These improvements were made after consulting thousands of Singaporeans as part of Forward Singapore.

b. Let me recap them.

27. First, as we build more flats in more central locations in Singapore, we want to ensure that public housing remains affordable for more Singaporeans.

a. We also want our estates to maintain a good social mix, and that the distribution of subsidies be fair.

28. We have therefore introduced a new national housing framework – Standard, Plus, and Prime flats – which will take effect later this year.

a. Mr Henry Kwek asked how we will ensure that Plus and Prime housing remain affordable and inclusive. We will provide additional discounts and subsidies for these flats, as well as grants such as the means-tested Enhanced CPF Housing Grant, or EHG.

29. Mr Xie Yao Quan asked about how we will enhance housing options for singles.

a. With the launch of the new HDB framework, singles will be able to buy new 2-room Flexi flats islandwide, Plus, Prime and Standard. This will take effect later this year.

b. We received many other ideas during our Housing Conversations too. We will continue to review our housing policies to support the aspirations of singles[1] and other groups of Singaporeans.

30. For parents and married couples who are trying to secure their very first home to settle down, we implemented the First-Timer (Parents and Married Couples) priority category, in October of last year.

a. This increases the chances of success for eligible married couples and parents in securing their very first home from HDB, as they seek to start their families.

b. Mr Xie Yao Quan asked about the projected demand from this group. We are still monitoring the application and success rates since it only came into effect late last year.

c. But so far, I am glad to see that many families have benefited. Across our BTO launches in October and December last year, about 9 in 10 FT(PMC) applicants were issued a queue number within the flat supply available.

31. For home buyers in the resale market, we increased the quantum of the CPF Housing Grant last year, to support First-Timers.

a. Together with the EHG, as well as the Proximity Housing Grant, eligible First-Timer families can receive up to $190,000 in grants when they purchase a resale flat.

b. We will continue to review our grants, paying particular attention to supporting our low-income households.

Greater Support for Families

32. This year, we will make two further moves to support Singaporeans’ housing needs.

Enabling Young Couples to Settle Down Earlier

33. First, we want to help young couples to settle down earlier, if they are ready to do so, as a couple.

34. In our Forward Singapore Housing Conversations, many young couples appreciated the support to help them buy their homes. This includes the EHG, as well as our efforts to ramp up Shorter Waiting Time flats, and of course the FT(PMC).

a. But some still face financial difficulties in booking a flat, particularly those who are still studying or in National Service.

b. As Mr Henry Kwek mentioned, there are also some young homebuyers who need to support their parents when they work and find it hard to build up savings.

c. These young couples do not qualify for the EHG, which requires 12 months of continuous employment, as they have not yet started working or have only just started working.

d. Furthermore, these couples are likely to face difficulties in qualifying for a sizeable housing loan at the point in time of application.

35. Today, we have various measures to help these young couples, who are full-time students or National Servicemen, or who have completed their full-time studies or NS in just that past year.   

36. First, we allow such couples to book a new flat, while they defer their income assessment for the EHG and an HDB housing loan to shortly before they collect their keys.

a. At this later date, they are more likely to be eligible for the EHG as well as a larger HDB loan.

37. We also extend the Staggered Downpayment Scheme, or SDS, to these couples. They only need to pay half of the initial downpayment required for their new HDB flat, with the balance paid at the point of key collection.

a. For those taking an HDB housing loan, they pay 5% of the flat price, instead of 10%.

b. While those taking a loan from financial institutions, or FIs, pay 10% of the flat price, instead of 20%.

38. I am glad that many young couples have benefitted from these measures.

a. In fact, since 2018, more than 3,700 couples have tapped on the deferred income assessment, with support from the SDS, to ease their upfront costs and start their home ownership journey early.

39. We want to do more to help lighten the initial financial burden for such young couples. Since they have deferred their income assessment, they will only receive their EHG closer to key collection, and must rely on their own savings or support from family for the initial costs of booking a flat.

a. For some of them, the reduced 5% initial downpayment under the SDS is still a significant financial barrier.

40. To provide further support to these young couples who tap on the deferred income assessment, we will enhance the Staggered Downpayment Scheme.

a. We will do this by reducing their initial downpayment to 2.5% of their flat price. This will apply whether they take an HDB housing loan or a loan from a financial institution.

i. So, this means for those taking HDB loans, from 5% to 2.5%. For those taking loans from banks, from 10% to 2.5%.

b. These couples will pay the balance downpayment at key collection, when they are in a better position to do so.

c. This will take effect from the next sales launch in June this year.

d. To illustrate, let us look at a young couple who is taking an HDB loan to buy a 4-room BTO flat in Bedok, a Mature Estate. They are tapping on the deferred income assessment as one of them is a full-time student and the other is an NSF. Suppose the flat is priced at $480,000 before grants.

i. Today, should they tap on the SDS, the 5% initial downpayment is $24,000.

ii. With our enhancement to the SDS, this will be further reduced to $12,000, which is more affordable for them.

41. For couples who are ready to purchase a flat and have been saving up to afford the downpayment, we hope that this enhancement will help you to settle down earlier and start your families earlier.

42. Ms Hazel Poa had suggested other ways to support our families, and to tackle our nation’s declining Total Fertility Rate.

a. I thank her for her suggestions.

b. We have addressed them previously in this House. Let me explain again.

43. First, on BTO waiting times.

a. Ms Poa suggested increasing the number of Shorter Waiting Time Flats launched in our BTO exercises. In fact, we are already doing so.

b. As we have mentioned before, we had started planning for more flats with shorter waiting times of less than three years before the COVID-19 pandemic.

i. These are flats that are built a year or more before they are launched. 

c. But we had to bring forward their launch dates to meet the immediate demand during the pandemic, to tide through the challenging period.

d. We are now ramping up on Shorter Waiting Time flats again.

i. In February last year, we had shared that we would launch 2,000 to 3,000 of such flats per year by 2025.

ii. Because of the hard work of my colleagues at HDB, we are now able to do this one year ahead of our target, to launch about 2,800 Shorter Waiting Time flats in 2024.

 iii.  In fact, we launched our very first SWT flat in 2018. [But our SWT supply was] affected by COVID-19, and we are now getting back on track.

iv. We will continue to recalibrate our building programme over time so that Shorter Waiting Time flats make up a larger proportion of new flat supply.

e. In fact, waiting times of recent launches have generally come down too.

i. The median waiting time for projects launched in 2023 was 3 years and 10 months.

ii. At the recent BTO sales exercise in February, more than 80% of the BTO flats launched have a waiting time of 3 and a half years or less.

44. Next, on expanding singles’ access to public housing.

a. The PSP is proposing to allow singles to access public housing from 28 years old, and to buy 3-room flats. Many other MPs from both sides of the House have made similar suggestions.

b. As I mentioned earlier, we will be allowing singles to purchase 2R Flexi BTO flats islandwide from the second half of this year – Standard, Plus, Prime. We are working hard to ramp up our flat supply, in order to meet the anticipated increase in demand.

c. In fact, as I explained in this House, if we had all the land and resources at this point in time to expand singles’ access even further or expand access for other groups of Singaporeans, we would already have done so.

d. But we also have to meet growing demand from married couples, families, seniors, and many other groups of Singaporeans.

e. If we were to adopt Ms Poa’s suggestions now without being able to increase our flat supply correspondingly, BTO application rates will spike, and resale prices will soar.

f. Many people who want flats will not be able to get them, including the singles whom she is trying to help.

g. This would be counter-productive to the PSP’s objective of supporting TFR. When young couples and families can’t get flats, it will make it even harder for them to settle down.

45. Our approach has instead been to design our public housing policies carefully to address the needs of every segment, while ensuring the stability and sustainability of our system.

a. We are living, after all, in a small island, city-state.

b. For Singaporeans who plan to get married, please rest assured that we have a slew of support measures to help you settle down quickly, including priority access to BTO flats as an FT(PMC) applicant.

c. The enhanced Staggered Downpayment Scheme that we have just announced is another measure that will help you book a flat and settle down earlier.

Meeting Families’ Needs for Temporary Accommodation

46. Let me now turn to another group whom we would like to further support. These are our families who have booked a flat, but need temporary accommodation while awaiting the completion of their flat.

47. Today, we provide subsidised temporary housing for these families under PPHS, or the Parenthood Provisional Housing Scheme.

48. Mr Louis Ng and Ms Nadia Samdin have asked for updates on the PPHS.

a. Since 2021, we have more than doubled our supply of PPHS flats to 2,000 units.

b. We have also refined the PPHS eligibility conditions and allocation process to prioritise families in greater need. 

c. As a result, we have been able to better meet demand from eligible families.

i. Application rates have dropped from over 20 times in 2021, in the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, to 2.3 times in February 2024.

ii. In recent exercises, all married applicants with children, including expectant parents, were invited to select a flat.

d. We will press on with our supply ramp up to 4,000 units by next year. 

49. Meanwhile, as DPM Wong had announced in the Budget speech, we will introduce a PPHS (Open Market) Voucher for one year until our PPHS supply is ramped up to 4,000 units next year, to support eligible families who need to rent HDB flats or bedrooms on the open market. 

50. Mr Murali Pillai noted the need to minimise distortion of the rental market. That is why we have scoped the parameters of the voucher carefully, to support these families while minimising the potential impact on the broader rental market.

51. This voucher will be available to families who meet the PPHS eligibility criteria.

a. Broadly, these are Singaporean families with a household income of $7,000 or less, who are waiting for their HDB flats to be completed. 

b. This allows us to target the PPHS Voucher at those with less income at their disposal, to defray their costs of renting.

52. Each eligible family will receive $300 per month, regardless of whether they rent an HDB flat or an HDB bedroom. Payment will be made on a reimbursement basis.  

a. Now, some may ask, why not a higher amount? The $300 quantum was carefully calibrated to provide some relief to eligible families, while mitigating the potential inflationary impact on the rental market for others.

b. At $300 per month, eligible families will receive up to $3,600 if they qualify for the full year of support.  

53. The PPHS Voucher will be in place for a year starting from July 2024, and we will monitor the impact of the voucher on the rental market closely.  

54. Now, Mr Louis Chua has proposed to expand HDB’s rental programme. And, Mr Leong Mun Wai too.

a. Just last year, the PSP introduced the scheme, the Millennial Apartment Scheme, and shared that it was a way to build small, rental flats in prime locations near the central business district, for younger Singaporeans to rent for a period of time.

b. Now, they have expanded the scheme to, what I understand are, Mature Estates, as well as to replace future Prime and Plus flats with Millennial Apartments instead. This means taking back Mature Estate land and in more central parts of Singapore, including currently owner-occupied flats, instead of building Prime and Plus flats with the concomitant restrictions to support owner occupation, for people to buy. This means, under their scheme, replacing them with large numbers of rental flats for young millennials to rent out for a few years. This, of course, in an island city state with limited land, will mean very significant trade-offs and fewer supply for many other groups of Singaporeans, including those that will have to be displaced as a result of the redevelopment plans of the PSP.

c. In fact, today, we already have a range of rental and co-living options in both the HDB market, as well as in the private market, as well as HDB programmes such as the rental flat scheme, Interim Rental Housing and PPHS.

d. As I have said earlier, we will continue studying ideas shared with us during the Forward Singapore Housing Conversations, including the ideas that members of this House have raised, and continue to study how to enhance further the diversity of housing options in Singapore.

55. But, as I have shared earlier, the vast majority of Singaporeans still aspire to own a home, if not now, then eventually. This was reaffirmed at our Forward Singapore engagements with over 21,000 Singaporeans.

56. And so, we are prioritising our resources to help Singaporeans achieve homeownership.

a. This has always been our position, even as we seek to provide more diversity and choice in our market, and a safety net for those who are not yet ready to buy their own homes.

b. This is a continuous work-in-progress, and I thank Members from both sides of the House for your good ideas. In fact, this will continue to be our commitment to Singaporeans.

Supporting Our Seniors

57. Now, let me touch on how we are addressing the housing needs of our seniors.

58. As our society ages, it is important that we transform our homes and estates to better support our seniors.

59. To do so, we will spend $600 million on Age Well SG initiatives, to help our seniors age actively and independently in their communities.

a. At the estate level, we will upgrade our precincts to make them safer and easier for our seniors to move around in.

b. We will also provide more precinct amenities, where our seniors can stay active and bond with other residents.

c. At the flat level, we will introduce more enhancements through EASE 2.0, so that they feel safe and comfortable at home.

60. My HDB colleagues have been working hard on the implementation details for these plans, and some of these details are now ready. My colleagues SMS Sim Ann and MOS Faishal Ibrahim will touch on them later.

Voluntary Early Redevelopment Scheme – Reimagining our Public Housing Landscape

61. Mr Chairman, Mr Chong Kee Hiong and Dr Jamus Lim also asked about the Voluntary Early Redevelopment Scheme, or VERS.

62. Dr Lim focused on the mechanics of the scheme and the impact on homeowners, specifically making a suggestion for lower voting thresholds for older flats. We will take note of this suggestion. Mr Chong also spoke about the wider context of urban rejuvenation and redevelopment.

63. Indeed, VERS should be seen as part of a bigger strategy for us to comprehensively plan for the redevelopment of our public housing, improve the environment and quality of life in our heartlands, create towns that further embrace “live-work-play” strategies, and bring jobs and amenities closer to our people.

64. It is a big, complex, long-term task. It involves reimagining all over again the concept of public housing, and reinvigorating our ageing HDB towns. In doing so, we have to take care of the current generation’s housing needs even as we cater for the needs of future generations.

65. We will need to carefully stage redevelopment in the older parts of the towns, while minimising disamenities to the residents in the newer parts.

66. Some Singaporeans will need to relocate as a result of this, so we will need to work through the detailed mechanics and processes, and the package for VERS. We will also need to ensure that there are sufficient homes available at the right time for them.

67. We are developing these details and plans, and will announce more information and details in due course.

68. This is the Government’s commitment to you. We have taken care of Singaporeans’ housing needs for the past 60 years. It is a work in progress. We will continue to do so for the next 60 years and beyond.

69. I thank all members for your questions and suggestions on how we can continue to support Singaporeans’ housing needs, be it singles, young families, seniors, families with persons with disability, our transnational families, and more, as raised by Ms Cheryl Chan and other members.

Transforming our Built Environment Sector

70. I will now turn to our Built Environment sector (BE sector).

71. Through our refreshed Industry Transformation Map, or ITM, we have been helping our construction firms to digitalise, raise their productivity, and build more sustainably.

72. Ms Cheryl Chan asked for an update. So far, we have made good progress in digitalising the sector by encouraging the adoption of Integrated Digital Delivery, or IDD.

a. IDD connects different stakeholders in a building project via a “digital spine”. It enables greater collaboration throughout the project. Examples include the adoption of virtual environments to simulate real-world construction.

b. The IDD adoption rate for new developments by GFA (Gross Floor Area) has increased from about 45% in 2022, to 58% in 2023 and we are on track to meeting our target of 70% IDD adoption by 2025.

73. We have also shifted towards more productive ways of building, by raising the adoption of Design for Manufacturing and Assembly, or DfMA, technologies.

a. This enables the off-site prefabrication of building components in a safer, more productive, factory-like settings before they are shipped to the work site and assembled.

b. Over the years, we have made moves to push for DfMA as the default mode of construction in Singapore.

c. For instance, it is a requirement for all developments on land sold under the GLS programme.

d. We also enhanced the Buildability Framework in 2022 so that all large building projects of at least 25,000 square metres must adopt DfMA.

e. Our efforts are bearing fruit. The DfMA adoption rate for all new developments by GFA increased from 51% in 2022 to 61% in 2023. We are similarly on track to meet our target of 70% DfMA adoption by 2025.

f. Minister Indranee Rajah will share more about our progress towards a more sustainable BE sector.

74. We must continue to push the envelope, to ensure that our construction industry is well-poised for further transformation.

75. To do so, we will enhance BCA’s Contractors Registration System, or CRS.

a. Currently, firms that are bidding for public sector construction tenders need to be registered under CRS.

b. CRS is also one of three gateways for firms to access foreign construction workers.

c. The other two gateways are: BCA’s Builders Licensing Scheme, or BLS, and the Singapore List of Trade Sub-contractors, or SLOTS, which is managed by SCAL, the Singapore Contractors Association Ltd.

76. Today, the entry requirements to CRS, BLS, and SLOTS are uneven. This means that some firms may find it easier to access foreign construction workers under certain gateways.

a. Now, while we recognise the need for foreign construction workers in the sector, the firms that are allowed to hire them should meet the same minimum standards.

b. This should apply equally to firms, regardless of whether they undertake public or private sector projects.

77. As such, we will make this move. We will now require all firms hiring foreign construction workers to be registered under CRS.

a. CRS will become the sole gateway for firms to access these workers.

b. This means that CRS will expand its reach. It will shift from being a public sector registry, to a nation-wide registry of construction firms.

c. With this nation-wide registry in place, we can raise and harmonise quality, manpower and productivity, and innovation standards more effectively, across the entire construction industry.

78. We will do so progressively, to mitigate the impact on our firms as well as to construction projects. So, for a start, the CRS entry requirements will be adjusted to keep pace with current tender prices and construction costs.

a. So, to be registered, we will require a firm to have a minimum paid-up capital of fifty thousand dollars and a track record of three hundred thousand dollars in total over the past three years, or about one hundred thousand dollars per year on average.

b. This is to ensure that firms that hire foreign construction workers have the minimum financial capability and experience to sustain their operations and deliver projects.

c. We will give our firms time to meet these new requirements.

d. BCA will announce further details of the changes, including the implementation timeline, later this year.

79. BCA has engaged key industry stakeholders, and they understand the impetus for these changes.

80. Minister Indranee will share more details on other upcoming initiatives to support firms in their transformation journey.

Mandarin segment

81. Chairman, in Mandarin, please.

82. 今年是建屋发展局创立《居者有其屋计划》的60周年。政府在这60年里,致力为国人提供公共住房,支持国人的拥屋梦。

83.  我们理解,国人对近年来的房屋市场表示担忧。有些家长担心孩子无法负担房价, 也有些年轻夫妇想尽早拿到钥匙,组织家庭。

84. 通过政府不同的措施,最近的房屋市场已经趋于平稳。

a. 房子的价格和租金增长率已有所缓解,

b. 预购组屋的申请率也有所下降。

c. 相信在接下来的一年,情况会进一步的稳定下来。

85. 随着国人日益变化的住房需求,我们的房屋政策也必须与时并进,让国人可以负担得起房屋, 拥有属于自己的家。

a. 较早前有宣布,从今年下半年开始,我们将实施新的组屋分类框架,确保组屋维持在大众负担得起的水平。

b. 单身人士也会有更多的住房选择 —— 他们将能购买任何地区的新二方式组屋 。

c. 我们也推出了新的《首次购屋者(家长与夫妻)》预购组屋的申请者类别,帮助那些符合资格的家庭,能尽早申请到组屋。

86. 今年,我们将会提供更多援助,帮助年轻夫妇拥有自己的安乐窝。

87. 我们了解,对于正在念书、当兵,或是刚毕业、刚当完兵的年轻国人来说,支付组屋的首期款对还没踏出社会的他们来说,是挺大的经济压力。 

a. 目前来说,他们可以分阶段支付房子的首期款:

i. 在签署购屋协议的时候先付一部分,

ii. 其余的等到拿钥匙的时候才付。

b. 为了进一步减轻他们的负担 ,我们将把他们第一次所需要支付的首期款一律调低到组屋售价的百分之2.5 。

88. 政府也将从今年7月起,实施为期一年的补助券,协助正在等待预购组屋建好,并且需要在组屋公开市场上租房的家庭。

a. 符合条件的家庭可以获得每个月300元的补助券, 来抵消他们的租房开销。

89. 当然,我们没有忘了年长者。政府会继续为组屋和邻里进行翻新,为年长者提供更加安全,宜居的居住环境,帮助他们原地养老,安享晚年。

90. 我们也在努力筹备《自愿提早重建计划》,VERS。

a. 通过VERS,我们能更全面地重新发展土地, 把生活,工作,与娱乐更好的融入市镇里,并把更多就业机会与设施带到组屋区里。

b. 但是,重建组屋区是一项非常复杂的任务。

c. 在重新规划正在老化的市镇时,我们需要小心平衡未来国人的住房需求,也必需慎重考虑到这一代的需求。  

d. 大致上,在一个市镇里,我们必须分阶段翻新比较旧的地区,并且减少对其他居民的不便。

e. 这也代表,一些国人会需要搬迁:我们必须确保有足够的房屋提供他们居住。  

91. 由于VERS的规模庞大也相当的复杂,这是一项为期几十年的项目。 

a. 我们一定会确保VERS计划的各个环节都获得妥善规划,并会在适当的时候宣布详情。

[English translation for reference]

The Government is firmly committed towards supporting Singaporeans’ home ownership aspirations. This year, we mark 60 years of HDB’s Home Ownership Scheme. In recent years, many Singaporeans have expressed concerns about the housing situation over the past few years. We have made significant progress in stabilising the situation. Growth in both housing prices and rents have moderated, and BTO application rates have come down. The situation is likely to further stabilise in the year ahead.

We will continue to keep housing affordable and accessible for Singaporeans, even amidst evolving needs and aspirations. We are implementing a new flat classification system from the second half of this year, to keep public housing affordable, inclusive, and fair for all. Singles will have more housing choices, as they will be able to purchase new 2-room Flexi flats islandwide. We also launched the new First-Timer (Parents and Married Couples) BTO applicant category, to support eligible families in securing a BTO flat earlier. And we will do more.

First, we will enhance the Staggered Downpayment Scheme for young couples. This is to help couples who are still studying full-time or serving National Service, or have completed their full-time studies or National Service in the past year. Today, they can pay a lower initial downpayment for their flat, with the rest paid upon key collection.To lighten their initial financial burden more and help them book a flat earlier, we will reduce the initial downpayment further to 2.5% of the flat price. Second, we will introduce the Parenthood Provisional Housing Scheme (Open Market) Voucher for one year, starting from July 2024. 

This will help defray rental costs for families who are renting a HDB flat or bedroom in the open market while waiting for their BTO flat. The eligibility criteria will be the same as the PPHS, and eligible families will receive $300 per month on a reimbursement basis. As part of Age Well SG, we will continue to enhance both our homes and our estates, to make it safer and easier for seniors to live in. This will support our seniors who wish to age in place.

We are also working hard to develop our plans for the Voluntary Early Redevelopment Scheme. VERS is an opportunity for us to comprehensively plan for the gradual redevelopment of our land use and urban renewal, create towns that further embrace “live-work-play”, and bring jobs and amenities closer to residents. However, it is a big, complex task. It involves re-planning our ageing HDB towns.

In doing so, we have to take care of the current generation’s housing needs even as we cater for the needs of future generations. We will need to carefully stage town redevelopment in the older parts, while minimising disamenities to the residents in the newer parts. Some Singaporeans will need to relocate. We need to ensure that there are sufficient new homes available at the right time for them. We are working hard to develop our plans, and will announce the details in due course. Because VERS is complex and on such a large scale, it will be a multi-decade initiative. We are working hard to develop the plans, and will announce the details in due course. More details will be shared in due course.

Building Our Collective Home Together

92. Mr Chairman, providing good homes, planning for our land use, and transforming our BE sector – these are important  areas that we must continue to forge ahead.

93. The collective efforts of Singaporeans and our stakeholders – planners, construction firms, various community groups – have helped to shape our nation and make Singapore a distinctive city.

94. We will continue to work with Singaporeans to build an inclusive, sustainable, and vibrant home for the generations to come. Thank you.


[1] Some singles have suggested lowering the age eligibility from the current 35 years old for access to public housing, while others have suggested allowing singles to access 3-Room or larger BTO flats so that they can accommodate family members and other guests who wish to stay with them from time to time. We have also heard some new ideas on housing typologies such as co-living and intergeneration housing, as well as new home financing ideas such as rent-to-own.