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WP: Public housing prices should be pegged to 'objective criteria' like household income

THE price of public housing should be determined by "objective criteria" rather than market forces, as its affordability has wider implications on whether Singaporeans start a family early or sink roots in the country, Workers' Party (WP) candidates said in the third episode of their online video series. 

Gerald Giam, a former Non-Constituency Member of Parliament and a candidate in the party's Aljunied GRC (Group Representation Constituency) slate, said during the party's Hammer Show, streamed on Facebook on Friday night: "The problem with very expensive flats is that couples end up delaying their marriage because they don't want to get married so early because they can't afford to find a flat right away, and so they delay marriage and that has a knock-on effect on things like child bearing, because they will have children a bit later.

"If they have children a bit later, it means that they might have fewer children or no children at all. So that becomes a problem when we're dealing with a fertility crisis as well in Singapore."

Muhammad Fadli Mohammed Fawzi, who is contesting in Marine Parade GRC, said it is also important to consider giving young adults access to public housing, whether or not they are married.

While singles can now apply for a two-room Build-to-Order (BTO) flat when they reach 35, WP proposed in its manifesto for the age limit to be lowered to 28.

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"Once you buy your own house, you are more able to make your own decisions, you can take responsibility for yourself, and you begin to chart your own future. So in terms of personal development, having access to public housing is crucial," Mr Fadli said.

The other reason is related to the "development of society", he said.

"Buying a house is not just about buying a piece of property or land. It's about buying a stake in the country. So the earlier that the individual can buy a stake in the country, the earlier the person can sink roots in the country," he said.

Nathaniel Koh, who is also contesting in Marine Parade GRC, said the affordability of pricing housing should be pegged to objective criteria.

He said the government revealed in 2017 that the pricing of new BTOs is pegged to resale prices in the vicinity and attributes of the new flats.

He said: "The government also mentioned that they are committed to making those flats affordable ... The challenge here is how can we ensure that this commitment to affordability is sustainable? Because if you look at it, commitment is subjective. How can we make it more objective?"

One way is to base BTO prices, especially in non-mature estates, on the median monthly household income of Singaporeans as this would make affordability more sustainable in the long term, he said.

Apart from property prices, the 36-minute show moderated by East Coast GRC candidate Nicole Seah covered a range of topics that the party believes youths are concerned about, including climate change and freedom of expression.

In a video message, Sengkang GRC candidate Ron Tan said having a credible opposition in Parliament creates room for robust debate with a diversity of views, which fosters a healthier political landscape.

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