SINGAPORE: By pursuing home ownership as an important national policy, the government has significantly improved the lives of Singaporeans, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in a Friday speech (Aug. 24), after important announcements on housing policy during Sunday Day Rally.
"The government has long sought home ownership as an important national policy, for many good reasons," he said when he launched a book – Critical problems in building assets in Singapore's development.
Owning their own home gives Singaporean "an interest in the country" and something to fight for when the "chips are up," Lee said.
"It allows every Singaporean community to participate in our economic growth, because as the economy grows, the value of your home will increase," he said. "And almost every household has a significant asset in its name, even households with low incomes."
This housing policy has helped the country avoid the extreme poverty often seen in even prosperous societies, he added.
"We could have largely left housing on the private market, such as Hong Kong, we could have controlled rental rates, such as in San Francisco, or we could have offered rental apartments at subsidized rates to tenants," he said. "But none of these alternatives would have achieved the same economic and social results as home ownership."
During the National Day Rally on Sunday, Lee had unveiled a big housing policy, including the government's plans to extend the Home Improvement Program to newer flats, to upgrade every HDB flat twice in its lifetime and to Housing & Development Board ( HDB) to take back flats to redevelop old cities at a measured pace under the Voluntary Early Redevelopment Scheme or VERS.
READ: & # 39; Ambitious & # 39; housing, care plans are & # 39; basic obligations & # 39; for Singaporeans, Prime Minister Lee says at NDR 2018
He also explained in detail why HDB flats have a lease of 99 years on the rally.
"We have to be honest for future generations … After (99 years) the flat comes back to the state, the government reconsiders the country and builds new flats for future generations. This is the only way to recycle the land," he had said.
Responding to commentators who said that the 99-year lease is only an extended lease, Lee said, "I think this argument is, frankly, great."
"Many private properties are also held on lease agreements of 99 years, but no one claims that they are only rented," he said.
"HDB tenants have all rights to their flats owned by owners of such leasehold properties."
He also relies on how the Central Provident Fund helped Singaporeans build their assets and said: "Our approach to asset building emphasizes individual work ethic and personal responsibility, supported by government policies and resources."
Mr Lee added that Singaporeans' support for this policy is one of the intangible assets & # 39; of the nation.
The shared values and social norms of the country, such as intolerance to corruption and acceptance of the national service as a necessary sacrifice, support society and the unity in Singapore, he emphasized.
"These intangibles keep us together as one person, they enable our society to solve problems and make progress in ways that others can not easily follow," he said.
These intangible assets are discussed in the book that was co-published by the national university professors. S Vasoo and Professor Bilveer Singh, Mr. Lee added.
"It is important for academics from our universities and think tanks to study and discuss issues that are of interest to Singapore," he said.
"It helps us understand the problems better, come up with better solutions, see things in a new perspective and advance our debate, policy and our results."