$100m boost to keep HDB lifts in top order

$100m boost to keep HDB lifts in top order
To ensure that lifts are well-maintained and replaced on time, the Ministry of National Development (MND) yesterday announced grants of more than $63 million for town councils. A Lift Maintenance Grant (LMG) will give all 16 town councils $600 for each of their lifts.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

One of the lifts broke down in a new block of flats in Bukit Batok on Wednesday, just days after residents had moved in.

The lift in Skyline II, a 33-storey Housing Board block, went up and down several times before stopping 20cm above the ground.

It is one of the many instances of HDB lifts malfunctioning recently.

To ensure that lifts are well-maintained and replaced on time, the Ministry of National Development (MND) yesterday announced grants of more than $63 million for town councils.

A Lift Maintenance Grant (LMG) will give all 16 town councils $600 for each of their lifts.

The LMG is expected to cost the Government $13 million every year.

The LMG will help the town councils cope with higher lift-related servicing and maintenance costs, said MND.

There is also a matching grant, with the ministry matching half the amount the town councils put into a newly mandated Lift Replacement Fund (LRF).

From April 1, town councils must set aside a minimum of 14 per cent of their income for the LRF, on top of existing sinking fund contributions.

The matching grant is to ensure that there are sufficient funds for the town councils to replace existing lifts, said MND.

The matching grant is expected to cost more than $50 million in the coming year, with the quantum likely to go up as town councils build up their LRFs over time.

Together with the recently announced Lift Enhancement Programme, which will cost an average of $45 million a year, the additional funding for town councils will go above $100 million every year.

This will double the current funding support for town councils under the annual Service and Conservancy Charge operating grants and quarterly Goods and Services Tax subvention, which amounted to $120 million in FY15/16, said MND.

RESPONSIBILITY

Calling the funding support a "substantial package", the ministry said: "Ultimately, town councils have a statutory responsibility to manage and maintain the common property in HDB estates."

In December last year, it was announced that the PAP town councils will pump in a total of $45 million to make their lifts safer and more reliable, following the PAP Lift Taskforce's preliminary study that month.

Separately, the Workers' Party-run Aljunied-Hougang Town Council said it will spend about $17.5 million over five years - funded mainly through the town council's sinking fund - to replace ageing lifts.

Said MND: "While the Government is extending significant financial support, town councils still need to do their part to plan ahead and take appropriate and timely steps to ensure that their long-term finances are sustainable."

fjieying@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Feb 3, 2017.
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