SINGAPORE – Premier Lee Hsien Loong explained on Friday (24 August) why homeownership is an important national policy, and says that it gives every Singaporean an interest in the country and has significantly improved life for everyone.
On the issue of 99-year Housing Board (HDB) leases, Mr. Lee refuted the idea that the lease is "just a prolonged lease" and not a sale.
He said that he was the argument of some commentators "amazingly astounding & # 39; thought, since many private properties are also held on lease contracts of 99 years, but no one claims that they are only rented.
"HDB tenants have all rights to their flats owned by such leasehold properties, you can live in it, you can handle it, leave it to your children – it's yours," said Lee, in a book launch to the National University of Singapore.
Actually, HDB owners enjoy extra privileges because their flats are upgraded from time to time with generous government funding, he added.
Although Lee did not mention the commentators he referred to, The Times on 14 August published a comment by Ku Habye Yong, CEO of International Property Advisor, who recommended "that we are honest with ourselves and acknowledge that we are only tenants who rent the HDB. -flats for their conditions ".
Housing was one of the hot-button issues that Mr Lee addressed during the National Rally of the day on Sunday when he announced several long-term housing initiatives in response to concerns about the expiration of HDB leases.
Returning to the issue today, he said that the ownership of a house makes it possible for every Singaporean community to participate in the economic growth of the country, because as the economy grows, the value of their home will also increase.
Almost every household – even people with a low income – has a considerable gain for their name.
"As a result, we have significantly improved life for everyone and avoided the extreme forms of deprivation and poverty that we often see, even in rich societies," he said.
The Prime Minister noted that the government could have taken other policy measures to accommodate the population, such as offering rental apartments at subsidized rates, controlled rentals such as in San Francisco, or largely leaving homes on the private market such as in Hong Kong.
"But none of these alternatives would have produced the same economic and social results as home ownership, because the experience of other cities shows that the private market will be inadequate for poor or even middle-income families," Lee said.
He added that rented houses create a very different mindset than owning a house, since a tenant lives from month to month and has no interest in the long-term value of the property because he can not sell the property or leave it to his children. "It is not yours."
In comparison, a homeowner takes responsibility for his property, thinks for a long time and does his best to protect its value, he said.
This is done directly through proper maintenance and maintenance, and also indirectly by maintaining the society and the system to which the value of his house depends, he added.
"That is why HDB sells flats to Singaporeans at very subsidized rates," he said.
It is also the reason why HDB prefers selling very heavily subsidized flats to low-income households instead of offering them a subsidized rental unit for cheap rents, he added.
Mr. Lee spoke at the launch of the book "Critical Issues in Asset Building in Singapore & # 39; s Development," together with former MEP. S Vasoo and associate professor Bilver Singh from NUS. The book published by World Scientific examines how policy measures such as accessible housing and national conscription have contributed to the growth and development of Singapore.
The event was attended by four generations of People & # 39; s Action Party MPs, including the only surviving leader of the first generation Ong Pang Boon.
In his speech, Lee also included the mandatory savings scheme of the Central Provident Fund (CPF) as another way in which the government assists Singaporean citizens in building their assets.
The government could have tackled this need by means of a state pension scheme financed by taxes as many countries do, he noted.
"Instead, we have built a unique system to help people save for themselves and build a nest egg for their retirement," he added, adding that the government is helping to increase CPF savings through "fair and even generous" interest rates ".
This system offers Singaporeans a disciplined way to save for the future and ensures the big financial obligations in life, "said Lee.
Singapore's approach to asset enhancement has worked well, "although we are not dogmatic," he said, citing grants and subsidies to people where needed through schemes such as Workfare for low-income workers.
He said that the government's asset-building approach emphasizes individual work ethic and personal responsibility, supported by government policies and resources – an approach that supports the Singaporean population.
This aid is one of the intangible assets of the country, he added, adding that there are other shared values, such as a commitment to multiculturalism, an intolerance to corruption, the acceptance of the national service as a necessary sacrifice and an appreciation for the essential importance of water.
"These intangibles keep us together as one people," he said. "They enable our society to solve problems and to make progress in ways that others can not easily follow."