SINGAPORE - A Housing Board flat sold on a 99-year lease is an asset that will appreciate as the country prospers - a fundamental tenet of Singapore's home ownership policy, said National Development Minister Lawrence Wong on Tuesday (Aug 21).
Said Mr Wong: "There is a high likelihood that over a period of time, if the economy does well, if incomes rise, then property values will appreciate together with the fundamentals of the economy, and your stake in the nation - your home - can also appreciate in value."
Mr Wong was answering a question by a member of the public on the 99-year leasehold for HDB flats at a forum organised by government feedback unit Reach on what people thought about Sunday's National Day Rally.
Audience members peppered Mr Wong and Reach chairman Sam Tan with questions on cost of living, housing and foreign affairs - topics central to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's speech.
The first question of the night, by a Toa Payoh resident who identified himself as Mr Lu, touched on a hotly debated issue of whether residents own, lease or rent their HDB homes.
Mr Lu asked if the Government should clarify that a 99-year lease is actually a form of long-term rental, and if it was thus misguided for residents to seek capital gain from their properties.
Mr Wong said a 99-year lease is an ownership, not a tenancy.
"When you buy a car, how long can you use a car for? Is it a rental car, or your car? A 99-year lease is far longer than 10 years. It is yours. It is an asset. It is owned by the homeowner," said Mr Wong.
Explaining further, he set out why residential properties, public or private, are sold on 99-year leases. Since 1967, all land sold by the Government is on leases not exceeding 99 years.