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Efforts to cool housing have paid off, says Khaw

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Efforts in the past four years to rebalance the property market have paid off and it is "a lot cooler now", National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan said on Friday.

EFFORTS in the past four years to rebalance the property market have paid off and it is "a lot cooler now", National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan said on Friday.

Reporters had asked him, at the press conference to introduce two new faces running for PAP seats in Sembawang GRC, whether he thought he had managed to assuage voters' disatisfaction over housing issues, which had come to the fore in the 2011 general election.

He replied: "At that time, the balance between buyers and sellers, the balance between supply and demand, were rather lopsided, so my efforts during the last four years was to work towards rebalancing; I think today, we have achieved a much fairer balance between sellers and buyers."

He added that when he first met his Ministry of National Development (MND) colleagues, he had rallied them into creating a soft landing for the housing market in four years. "So two years ago, when prices began to peak and then come down - believe me - I was one of the most relieved," he said, recalling the many walks in Sembawang Park he took with his wife when he was stressed by housing issues.

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But he emphasised that conditions could change because Singapore's small economy was plugged into the global one. "A soft landing benefits all - allows all players, buyers or sellers, to make adjustments. But a hard landing doesn't benefit anyone."

Asked if he would volunteer to take over the transport portfolio, with Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew stepping down, Mr Khaw laughed and quipped, in a reference to the challenging job: "I think I've made enough trips to Sembawang Park. I cannot be camping there the whole day."

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