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Macro-stability is key in assessing property cooling measures: Shanmugam

Wednesday, February 3, 2016 - 20:41
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Macro-stability is key in assessing property cooling measures and the government will review these policies when the risks are "less or manageable", Home Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam said on Wednesday.

MACRO-STABILITY is key in assessing property cooling measures and the government will review these policies when the risks are "less or manageable", Home Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam said on Wednesday.

"We plan ahead, we think, we assess so, when we set on a course, we have calculated the costs and benefits to the population, to the different sectors and we keep to the course. We have a rough idea on when to change but that doesn't mean we announce it," he said.

He was fielding questions at a dialogue session with over 2,000 property agents at a conference held by ERA Realty, on when the government would lift property market cooling measures, particularly the additional buyer's stamp duty (ABSD).

The cooling measures such as ABSD and the total debt servicing ratio, which caps individuals' borrowings to 60 per cent of their gross monthly income, seek to avert a systemic risk in the banking system and protect Singaporeans.

Policies are designed to balance the needs of ensuring that the aspirations of Singaporeans wanting to "own a piece of their own country" are met while being an international city, Mr Shanmugam said.

But expressing that he was not in a position to make government announcements unilaterally, Mr Shanmugam said: "When the finance minister and the national development ministers see that those risks are less or manageable, then they will relook at the policies. Whether they will change or they will not change, it's not for me to go and say."

But he also stressed that the property market does not exist in a vacuum, but is linked to the real economy, whose trajectory will depend on the internal and external environment.

Singapore's susceptibility to the global economy is also magnified by the fact that its external trade volume is four times that of its GDP (gross domestic product).

Even though the 2008 global economic crisis was hardly felt in Singapore, thanks to the government's pump-priming activities, the world economy is different now, Mr Shanmugam observed.

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