SINGAPORE: After the announcement of the new Voluntary Early Redevelopment Scheme (VERS) for HDB houses, a number of questions arose, including how many homeowners could receive and whether all flats are eligible.
"It would no longer be necessary to go into details right now, when some of these things can only happen in decades," said Development Cooperation Minister Lawrence Wong on Tuesday (August 21) in an interview with Channel's Talking Point team. NewsAsia.
"Let's not be too enthusiastic about what will happen in the VERS package or which flats will get VERS or unnecessarily speculate," he said when asked about details of the plan.
The housing scheme was announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong during his National Day Rally speech on Sunday.
Under VERS, the government can buy back older HDB flats before their 99-year lease contracts have been used up, and compensate residents whose flats have been taken back prematurely.
Residents who have to vote for VERS can then use the proceeds to buy a new flat. The plan does not begin until 20 years, Lee said, when some flats turn 70 years old.
READ OUT: NDR 2018 – Plan planned to redevelop more old HDB flats before lease contracts end
"Obviously there is a lot of interest in what the details would be, but this is a very long term commitment and we will have to study how the implementation should be carried out and how it can be done in a way that is financially sustainable." said Mr. Wong.
Part of the reason for introducing VERS is to allow more HDB households to benefit from redevelopment before their lease contracts of 99 years run out. The issue of the expiry of the lease has recently been a cause for concern for some homeowners, and Mr. Wong has revealed that the government has been investigating the case for the past two years.
When asked if he answered the question whether the VERS announcement was a way to "block questions about housing" prior to the next general election, Mr. Wong said that the government owes it to the Singaporeans for their plans. to share for the future.
"On the one hand, there have been many invites the government to share some of its thoughts on what a roadmap for public housing will be, "he said.
"If we hold back and only reveal or announce VERS when the details are ready, it can be over 15 years now, so people may live with 15 years of insecurity. "
Mr. Wong added: "We have been studying this for a while, not yet complete with all the details and much more work that needs to be done to work through the operational details and implementation details.
"But we thought that, given the concerns expressed, we owe it to the Singaporean people to explain at this stage, at the very broad level, how we think the next phase of public housing will be in the coming years and decades. unfold. "
READ: Owners of old HDB flats know now & # 39; there is a future & # 39 ;: experts in the field of new housing projects
HOW WILL THE GOVERNMENT PAY FOR VERS?
When asked whether the government will ask the president to use the accumulated reserves to finance VERS, Mr. Wong only wants to say that the scheme must be fiscally sustainable.
"It is a considerable tax expense and whatever we do, we will have to make sure that the tax schemes for the VERS are sustainable and do not burden the next generation, so they are part of the details we are working on," Minister.
He added: "If we look at policy options, when we review policies, nothing is sacred, you can always look at all the different options – there are always advantages and disadvantages attached to a particular proposed measure, so we will have all the options reviewed and eventually have to figure out the best way to go further. "
Mr. Wong also discussed the revision of the CPF rules in order to offer more flexibility to buyers of shorter rental apartments.
At a suggestion if the authorities would consider introducing CPF restrictions, only when there are 30 years left in the lease, instead of the current 60, Mr. Wong said: "Well, anything is possible.
"We know what the concerns are, there are many opportunities to tackle the problems, so at this stage I would not exclude anything until we have done a good study, completed the study with the CPF Council."
At the moment, if the remaining lease of a house is less than 60 years, there are restrictions on how much CPF money can be used to buy it.
A homeowner can use CPF money if his age plus the number of remaining years of the lease is at least 80 years, but subject to restrictions.
However, if the remaining lease term is less than 30 years, CPF can not be used at all.
Mr. Wong warned: "I am sure that the Singaporean population knows that a balance must be found (with sufficient CPF benefits), so we take all considerations into consideration and see how the rules can best be updated."
Catch the interview with National Development Minister Lawrence Wong on Thursday 23 August at 9.30 pm on Mediacorp & # 39; s Channel 5.