Why should taxpayers subsidise $2m exec condo?

Why should taxpayers subsidise $2m exec condo?

SINGAPORE - The "presidential" penthouse went for $2.05 million.

Since then, comments have flowed fast and furious. They come in the form of, among others, furious forum letters, angry netizens and irate chatter at coffee shops.

The crux of the matter is that the 4,349sq ft penthouse is an executive condominium (EC) - a public-private housing hybrid whose buyers enjoy government subsidies.

And it is the latest in a series of EC launches that come with million-dollar price tags and fancy trappings like outdoor terraces and jacuzzis.

We ask four property experts to weigh in on the debate. Their consensus? The Government should intervene in the EC market.

Revamp the system. Limit the size and number of EC units. And drop subtle hints to developers - using "soft power", so to speak - by rejecting the more outlandish plans, such as building mega-penthouses.

But the most interesting suggestion thrown up by the experts comes from Mr Alan Cheong, head of research at Savills Singapore: Monitor the incomes of applicants' parents to ensure rich parents are not exploiting the system.

Says Mr Cheong: "The Government should require applicants to state how much their parents earn, and introduce new rules to ensure that help is given to those who need it.

"It should not be the case that a tycoon's son can qualify for subsidised government housing."

The split-level "presidential" penthouse was bought by a couple, whose father said he would pay the bulk of it.

There is some indication that Government intervention may be forthcoming.

Minister for National Development Khaw Boon Wan recently blogged that EC developers should observe the intent and spirit of the EC housing scheme when marketing their projects.

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