Radical idea: Remove income ceiling

Radical idea: Remove income ceiling

SINGAPORE - Not one to shy away from radical ideas for housing policy, National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan floats another talking-point suggestion: Do away with the income ceiling for new Housing Board flats.

If he had his way, he would remove the income ceiling for a Build-To-Order (BTO) flat to give everyone a shot at living in them, Mr Khaw said in his wide-ranging interview.

Noting that HDB flats are as essential to the Singaporean way of life as national service and hawker food, he said: "I like the idea of every Singaporean, rich or poor, having a stint in HDB living... and not growing up your whole life in a bungalow, for example."

Mr Khaw - who stressed it was just his personal opinion that he was throwing in for discussion - was explaining the effect of the income ceiling on HDB's market share.

About 80 per cent of residents in Singapore live in an HDB flat.

The higher the income ceiling qualification to buy one, the more people can qualify for a flat.

A household cannot earn more than $10,000 a month to qualify for a BTO flat, and not more than $12,000 for an executive condominium.

When Mr Khaw moved over from the Health Ministry to his new post in 2011, he raised both income ceilings that very year from $8,000 and $10,000 so that more young couples could qualify for new flats.

The $8,000 limit had been kept unchanged since 1994 by his predecessors in a bid to naturally shrink HDB's share of the property market as incomes rose.

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